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 ESPN.com 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?

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Nate Robinson arrested for driving with a suspended license

Per the NY Post

Pint-sized New York Knicks player Nate Robinson came up short last night in The Bronx, where cops busted the slam-dunk expert for driving with a suspended license, authorities said.

Robinson — whose license was suspended in June for the fifth time — was driving himself and newly drafted New Jersey Nets player Terrence Williams when cops stopped him in The Bronx in the late afternoon.

Robinson tweeted just after he was pulled over, saying that he thought that he was stopped because his windows were too dark. After the arrest, he had this to say…

“To All My Tweeps: I was irresponsible earlier when I tweeted about being pulled over,” Robinson wrote afterwards. “I thought it was for tinted windows but turns out I had an unpaid ticket and I wasn’t aware the ticket had been mailed to my Seattle address … I apologize to the Knicks, my family and fans.”

Tsk, tsk, tsk…

Not a smart move for a restricted free agent hoping to sign a one-year deal with the Knicks and enter unrestricted free agency next summer. I doubt this will impact the Knicks’ decision, but you never know.

Knicks pursuing Rubio?

It seems like an obvious match on paper. The Knicks have a well-documented need for a point guard and Ricky Rubio is threatening to play another year or two in Spain so that he can avoid playing in Minnesota, at least for the time being. Then, of course, there is the T-Wolves’ decision to draft point guards with back-to-back picks in this year’s draft. Throw in the Knicks’ reluctance to sign a point guard this summer and it all adds up — they’re pursuing Rubio.

One insider tells RealGM’s Alex Kennedy that Kahn could be working out a scenario where Rubio would be dealt to the New York Knicks.

“Kahn and [Knicks’ President] Donnie Walsh are close and New York is looking for a cheap point guard who could help attract free agents next summer. Rubio fits that mold. I think that’s what this latest trip to Spain is about, working something out with New York.”

First, let me state that this is all speculation. An “insider” told Real GM that Kahn “could be” working out a deal that would send Rubio to New York. This isn’t exactly substantial stuff.

Regardless, it’s not clear what New York would have to give up in this scenario, as they don’t have too many assets to offer. David Lee is a possibility, but the T-Wolves are pretty set up front with Al Jefferson and Kevin Love. Nate Robinson is a good scorer, but wouldn’t be equal value for the potential that Rubio brings to the table. Wilson Chandler is a nice (though not particularly efficient) small forward, which is the same position that LeBron James plays.

Lee would seem to be the best that the Knicks have to offer, but would the T-Wolves want to pay him $8-$10 million per season when he’d likely come off the bench? Thinking about it, Chandler plus an unprotected first round pick might do the trick.

2009 NBA Free Agency: Who’s left?

Aside from Lamar Odom and his ongoing saga with the Lakers and Heat, all of the big-name unrestricted free agents are off the market.

Restricted free agency is a completely different animal. Since a team still holds a player’s rights for another season, there is no huge rush to get a deal done, especially if the team and the player’s camp are far apart in terms of the player’s value. The deeper into the summer negotiations go, the more likely it is that the player will play out the final year of his rookie deal for the qualifying offer and enter unrestricted free agency in 2010. Here’s an update on the top remaining names on the restricted free agency market.

David Lee
Lee and the Knicks are still at an impasse. The Knicks look to be willing to match any offer up to about $8 million per season, while Lee’s camp is looking for a deal averaging in the $10-$12 million range. There was some talk that the potential one-year deal for Nate Robinson might prompt the Knicks to get moving on a long-term contract for Lee, but even that Robinson deal is just a rumor. Like many restricted free agent negotiations, this looks like a case of the two sides being far apart on the player’s value and given the Knicks’ apparent unwillingness to work out a sign-and-trade, all signs point to Lee playing out the final year of his deal and entering unrestricted free agency next year. Lee is frustrated in no small part because his qualifying offer ($2.3 million) is well below his market value.

Ramon Sessions

The Knicks, Clippers and even the Sixers may be interested, but no one has signed Sessions to an offer sheet yet. The Bucks are likely to match most offers up to the mid-level, but there is still enough uncertainty about Sessions that teams seem unwilling to sign him to a full mid-level deal (five years, $34 million). Based on what I’ve read from Sessions’ agent, Jimmy “Chubby” Wells, he’s not sure what the Bucks are doing. It seems like a four-year deal in the $12-$15 million range would do the trick. That way, Sessions would get some long-term security and would be able to negotiate another contract when he’s 27. On the flip side, the Bucks would get a backup plan if Brandon Jennings doesn’t pan out. But what do I know? I’m just a blogger.

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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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