NBA News & Rumors: Lee, Aldridge, Ellis and the “sit down” rule

David Lee wooed by Blazers, but was worried about playing time. Portland offered $28 million over four years, but Lee didn’t think there were enough minutes to be had with LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden already on the front line. It looks as if Lee left $21 million in guaranteed money on the table to stay with the Knicks and play out the season. This is a big risk, but it may pay off next summer.

Blazers, Aldridge still talking extension. While it’s good to hear that negotiations aren’t at a standstill, it’s still worrisome that a deal has not yet been finalized. Aldridge is not a no-brainer max-contract guy, so right now, the Blazers are trying to convince his agent that Aldridge is not worth the max. This can be a tough pill to swallow, expecially with all those teams sitting on loads of cap space next summer. If Aldridge becomes a restricted free agent in 2010 and gets a max deal in the form of an offer sheet, then the Blazers will probably match. But it’s their job to get him for what they think he’s worth, and right now the franchise has the leverage.

Monta Ellis warming up to Stephen Curry.
Ellis was worried that Curry was just a shooter, but he’s shown the ability to create (specifically the nine assists he had in the Warriors’ first preseason game). I’m not sure why Ellis is so concerned with the team’s front office decisions, as he should be focused on having a bounce-back year after a fairly disastrous 2008-09 season. Curry and Ellis may face some matchup problems on the defensive end, but they have the potential to create as many problems for their opponents on the other end of the court.

LeBron not a fan of the “sit down” rule. I don’t blame him. He doesn’t want to see the emotion sucked out of the game, and that’s what this rule does. The league doesn’t want its players to block the view of the fans that pay thousands and thousands of dollars for premier seats, but there has to be a compromise here. Why not have a rule where the players can stand up to cheer a play but have to sit down within some set amount of time?

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Knicks re-sign Lee, Robinson

The New York Knicks have re-signed David Lee. Nate Robinson is close to a deal as well.

Lee’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, told on Thursday that the sides have an agreement in principle on a one-year contract.

“We’re on the verge of getting this done,” Bartelstein said. “I believe David will sign the contract tomorrow.”

The contract is believed to be worth $7 million for the 2009-10 season with incentives that could take it to $8 million if the Knicks reach the playoffs.

Fellow restricted free agent Nate Robinson has also reached terms with the Knicks on a one-year deal, according to a source with knowledge of the talks, that will pay him a higher salary than Robinson’s $2.9 million qualifying offer.

The Knicks’ stance has been clear all along. They are very reluctant to sign players to contracts that run longer than one year because they want to have as much cap flexibility as possible next season when they hope to woo a big-name free agent to New York.

If Lee’s contract demands were more reasonable, he would have signed a multi-year deal with another team a long time ago. But his camp has demanded $8-$10 million per season this entire time, and the market just won’t bear it. He’s a great rebounder, but he’s just an average defender and his numbers are a bit inflated because the Knicks play at a frenetic pace. By signing a one-year deal, he is risking the financial security of a mid-level deal that he no doubt could have signed had he been willing to reduce his asking price.

Would you rather have a guaranteed $7 million with a shot at a long-term deal averaging $8 million next summer or a mid-level deal that runs five years and a guaranteed $34 million starting this summer? If he suffers a career-ending injury this season, his decision to sign a one-year deal will cost him $27 million.

That’s a lot of risk. After all, 27 million birds in the hand are better than 47 million in the bush, right?

Felton signs one-year deal with Bobcats

Per the Charlotte Observer

The Charlotte Bobcats and Raymond Felton’s agent both confirmed this morning that Felton has signed the one-year, $5.5 million qualifying offer for this season, which will make him an unrestricted free agent next summer.

This amounts to an acknowledgement that the team and Felton couldn’t work out a long-term deal. Agent Kevin Bradbury said Felton isn’t upset by that and wants to remain in Charlotte.

The solid play of D.J. Augustin has made Felton expendable in Charlotte. Felton averaged 14.2 points and 6.7 assists last year, but shot less than 41% from the field and less than 29% from long range.

When restricted free agents are unable to work out a long-term deal, it’s a sign that they will be moving to a different zip code within a year. We’ll see if that holds true for Felton.

The Lakers never made an official offer to Ariza

Trevor Ariza is featured in the most recent issue of ESPN The Magazine and in an article written by Sam Alipour, he discusses how he came to sign with Houston instead of staying put and re-signing with the Lakers. (Insider subscription required.)

That script began to be rewritten at the toll of free agency, 12:01 a.m. on July 1, one minute into the day after Ariza’s birthday. He was still celebrating with family when he received a call from his agent, David Lee. “He said, ‘The Lakers called, and they think you’re worth only the midlevel,’ ” or $5.8 million a year, Ariza recounts. Technically, it wasn’t even an offer. Says Lee of the Lakers GM, “Mitch Kupchak’s exact quote was, ‘We want Trevor on the cheap, and we’re not going to make an offer. Find what the market will bear and come back to us.’ ”

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Bucks don’t match T-Wolves’ offer for Sessions

I’ve written about this ad nauseam, but the Bucks elected not to match Minnesota’s offer for up-and-coming point guard Ramon Sessions.

Even with the whole Ricky Rubio/Jonny Flynn mess strategy, this is a nice move by the Timberwolves. Sessions can play a little off guard, but he and Flynn will have some battles in practice and should ultimately make each other better. He’s just 23 and has proven that he can be productive in limited minutes, and now that he’s locked into a reasonable contract, he’s going to be a valuable asset for the T-Wolves.

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