Knicks eyeing to move David Lee

The Boston Globe is reporting that the New York Knicks are looking to work a sign-and-trade deal for center-forward David Lee in another salary cap cutting move towards the 2010 free agent market.

Much of the speculation centers around a deal involving Lee and the #8 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft going to Memphis for the #2 pick and backup center Darko Milicic. This would allow the Knicks to draft international star point guard Ricky Rubio, who has made it known that he wants to play in a major United States sports market.

The Spaniard has a complicated, multi-million dollar contract with his European team, DKV Joventut Barcelona. Before June 30th, the club will grant Rubio’s freedom from his contract for $6.6 million (NBA teams are allowed only to contribute a maximum of $500,000 to buy out a contract of a foreign player), and after June 30th, the price tag expands to $8 million.

Other trade rumors include the Knicks packaging Lee, forward Jared Jeffries and the #8 pick to Toronto for forward Chris Bosh or to Phoenix for disgruntled power forward Amare Stoudemire.

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The NBA’s 68 worst contracts

The economy is really starting to take its toll on professional sports, and the NBA is no different. Bad contracts are bad even when the economy is pumping, but they really stand out in tough times like these. So I decided to look through the payrolls team-by-team to try to identify the worst contracts in the NBA. I expected to list 15-20 names, but I ended up scribbling down 68. That’s right, there are no fewer than 68 bad contracts in the NBA.

I didn’t include any of the players that are in the final year of their contracts because…well, what’s the point? They’ll be off the books in a few months anyway. Instead, I wanted to focus on those contracts that are going to haunt teams for years to come, so to be eligible, players have to have at least a year left on their current deals.

It’s tough to compare someone making superstar money to an average, everyday role player, so I split these 68 contracts up into three groups: the Overpaid Role Players, the Not-So-Super Stars and the Injury-Prones. I will rank them from least-worst to most-worst with the thinking that I wouldn’t trade the player for anyone further down the list but I would trade him for anyone previously mentioned. So, for example, if a guy is listed #7 within a particular group, I’m not trading him for anyone ranked #6-#1, but I would think seriously about moving him for a guy that is ranked #8+.

So let’s start with the role players and go from there…

(Note: In most cases, I don’t blame the player himself for his outrageous contract. The fault lies with the general manager that inked the guy to the deal. However, this rule goes out the window if the player has a history of only producing in his contract year – I’m looking at you, Tim Thomas.)

Read the rest after the jump...

What are the Knicks going to do with David Lee?

During a chat yesterday, Chad Ford had this to say about David Lee:

Donnie Walsh is trying to find a home for Eddy Curry or Jared Jeffries that frees up some cap space so that he can re-sign Lee. It sounds like that’s close to Mission Impossible, though I said the same thing about Zach Randolph this summer. If he can do that, I think Lee stays. If he can’t, he’d be smart to get something now instead of losing him in the summer. There is LOTS of interest in Lee both now and in the summer. He’s one of the few restricted free agents teams think they can steal away because of the Knicks cap situation.

Let’s be clear — the Knicks don’t have to trade anyone away to re-sign Lee. Ford is talking about clearing cap space so that the franchise doesn’t have to pay a luxury tax next season. They are currently on the hook for $69.3 million and that doesn’t count new contracts for Lee or Nate Robinson. With the the luxury tax threshold unlikely to change much from this season ($71 million), Walsh would need to move a contract or two to clear space for signing Lee and/or Robinson. Lee is the priority because he’s such a good fit in Mike D’Antoni’s up tempo attack. He is averaging 16.0 points and 11.7 rebounds per game, and is shooting almost 57% from the field.

Eddy Curry will make $21.7 million over the next two seasons but has only appeared in one game this season. The Knicks desperately need to get him some minutes if they hope to trade him before the Feb. 19 deadline. Jeffries is getting some minutes, but he has been horribly unproductive (PER: 7.39), though he was never much of a stat guy.

The bottom line is that if the Knicks want to re-sign Lee, they can. Their projected payroll goes down to $18.2 million for the 2010 season, so they would only take the luxury tax hit for one season if they chose to sign Lee to a multi-year deal (or matched another team’s offer this summer, when he becomes a restricted free agent).

What’s he worth? I’d say his play this season has put him into the range of $10-$11 million per season. I’d be careful not to pay too much more, because right now he’s putting up great numbers on a bad team that plays at a blistering pace.

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