Robinson to sign a one-year deal? What about Lee?

Per the NY Times…

The Knicks and the sparkplug guard Nate Robinson are nearing an agreement on a one-year contract that will pay Robinson $5 million to $6 million, a person close to the negotiations confirmed Sunday.

The Knicks are attempting to maintain enough wiggle room to land one or two of the potential star free agents expected to be in the 2010 class. The Knicks would have Robinson as a usable asset; they could keep him, trade him, re-sign him or use him in a sign-and-trade next summer.

If Robinson’s deal is finalized, it will almost certainly end the Knicks’ flirtation with the point guard Ramon Sessions, a restricted free agent from the Milwaukee Bucks. And a deal with Robinson could help Lee’s cause for a long-term deal because Robinson’s contract would not tie up any salary past next season.

This isn’t a bad deal for Robinson, because he gets a bigger salary and also gets to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Normally, restricted free agents who can’t come to terms on an extension end up signing a one-year tender that allows them to enter free agency again the following summer. The Knicks are doing Robinson a favor, and even though it’s not the long-term contract that he wants, it should keep him happy for the season. (And, as a Bucks fan, I’d be happy to see the Knicks end their courtship of Ramon Sessions, though I’m not sure why Robinson’s one-year deal means that the team still can’t use their mid-level on Sessions, if they think he’s the long-term answer at the point.)

As for Lee, the Knicks seem more interested in signing him to a long-term deal. And why not? He has proven that he can be productive without needing a lot of touches. But he’s just an average defender, so the Knicks don’t want to pay the $10-$12 million per season that he’s asking. He’d be smart to work out a long-term deal for around $8 million a year and stay in New York, but with some of the strange contracts we’ve seen this summer despite the terrible economy, his camp is still holding out for a big payday.

7/28 Update: The New York Post reports that no deal is imminent for Robinson.

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Heat trying to land Boozer, Odom

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports

Now, the Heat are working furiously to deliver Lamar Odom and Carlos Boozer to the shores of Biscayne Bay. The Heat are trying to sell Odom on a five-year, $34 million contract at the mid-level exception, and a league executive with knowledge of the talks says Miami has also hatched a three-way proposal with the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies to secure Boozer.

The essentials of a possible deal would include Miami sending forward Udonis Haslem and Dorell Wright to Utah. Because Memphis is under the cap, Utah could move Wright’s $2.8 million salary to the Grizzlies and save itself approximately $5.6 million with salary and luxury-tax payments. Memphis would probably get cash and picks for its trouble. The Heat would have to send one more small contract to make the math on the salary exchange work.

Odom can play some small forward, so this isn’t an outrageous plan by Riley and the Heat, though I’m not sure where it would leave Michael Beasley. Wojnarowski says that the Lakers have offered Odom $36 million over four years (which works out to about $8 million per season, after state taxes), so I’m not sure why he’d take the Heat’s deal, unless he is looking to sign the biggest contract overall. There is no state tax in Florida, so Miami’s $34 million deal is slightly larger than the Lakers’ deal, after state taxes.

The Boozer acquisition seems more likely, and although I do like Haslem, I’m not sure that he’s enough to convince Utah to pull the trigger. Portland is also working on a deal for Boozer, since all signs point to the Jazz matching the Blazers’ offer sheet to Paul Millsap whether or not Boozer is on the roster. The Blazers are also trying to get the Pistons involved so that they can try to pry Tayshaun Prince away from Detroit, though Joe Dumars has wisely stayed out of such talks thus far. It appears that he doesn’t see Boozer as a $14 million per season player and that’s what Boozer’s camp is asking for. With his injury history, they need to set their sights a little lower.

David Lee looking for $12 M per season?

Wondering why David Lee is still on the restricted free agent market? It might be because his asking price is a whopping $12 million per season.

The Knicks have not made a formal offer but are hoping to keep Lee for about $7 million to $8 million per season.

It could take much longer to determine the fates of Lee and Robinson. They are restricted free agents, making them a gamble for rival teams. Lee’s asking price may also be a big obstacle. His agent, Mark Bartelstein, is seeking $12 million per season, according to an executive whose team is pursuing Lee.

But Bartelstein made a strong argument that Lee is a unique and valuable player. He led the league in double-doubles last season, his fourth in the N.B.A., averaging 16 points and 11.7 rebounds, and shot 54.9 percent from the field. He is just 26 and still improving as a shooter and passer.

But at 6 feet 9 inches, Lee is also undersized for a power forward and center, and he does not block many shots or provide stiff interior defense. He scores in bunches, but he cannot create his own shot. Lee could make an All-Star team but he is not viewed as a franchise player, which is why the Knicks want to keep his salary in the single-digit millions.

Bartelstein sounded frustrated at the lack of a deal.

“It’s a shame David’s not done yet,” Bartelstein said. “The Knicks have the ability to get him signed. The other teams don’t, because they don’t know if the Knicks will match or not, or go through a sign-and-trade.”

Here’s what I wrote about Lee in our preview of this year’s crop of restricted free agents

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Getting better or getting worse?

The NBA offseason is about getting better. Players are (or should be) in the gym, working on their games, getting stronger, running faster, whatever. Meanwhile, general managers try to draft well and make some moves in free agency that will help their respective teams make that jump to the next level.

There’s an old Beatles song, “Getting Better,” that goes…

I’ve got to admit it’s getting better
A little better all the time (It can’t get no worse)
I have to admit it’s getting better
It’s getting better since you’ve been mine

Now Paul McCartney and John Lennon were talking about a girl, but those lyrics could easily be applied to an NBA team during the summer. With that in mind, here are three teams that are getting better and three that are getting worse. (And, by the way, just because a team is adding talent, it doesn’t mean that they’re making the right moves.)


San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs’ willingness to take on salary to improve their roster resulted in the acquisition of All-Star-caliber forward Richard Jefferson from the Bucks, who were looking to dump salary. To add Jefferson, they only had to give up Kurt Thomas, Bruce Bowen and Fabricio Oberto. RJ is a good all-around wing that can score and defend. The Spurs also added Antonio McDyess with a three-year, mid-level deal. McDyess is 34, but his PER of 16.63 last season is still well above average. To top it all off, San Antonio benefited from DeJuan Blair’s free fall on draft night. Blair is arguably the best rebounder in this year’s draft class and he’ll provide immediate toughness on the inside. Really, at the cost of a second rounder, do the Spurs care if his knees break down in three or four years? If San Antonio has everyone healthy come playoff time, they have a great shot of upending the Lakers in the West.

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Raptors give fat extension to Bargnani

When I estimated the extensions that the big names from the class of 2006 could potentially sign this summer, I pegged Andrea Bargnani at $7-$8 million per season. It turns out I underestimated his value to the Raptors.

The deal, according to NBA front-office sources, would span five seasons starting in 2010-11 and earn Bargnani an estimated $50 million.

Bargnani did go through something of a transformation in his third season, averaging 15.4 points on 45% shooting from the field and 41% from long range. The previous year, he shot 39% from the field and less than 35% from deep, so he made a big jump, efficiency-wise. His PER (14.66) is still below average, mainly due to his suspect rebounding for a seven-footer (5.3 rpg) and lack of assists (1.2 apg).

The bottom line is that Bargnani will have to continue his career trajectory to earn the contract that the Raptors just awarded him.

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