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News » Knicks face free agent decisions on Lee, Robinson

Knicks face free agent decisions on Lee, Robinson

Knicks face free agent decisions on Lee, Robinson
NEW YORK (AP) - David Lee and Nate Robinson become free agents on Wednesday, and the New York Knicks say they would like to keep both.

The players shouldn't expect too big an offer. Those are reserved for the guys who hit free agency next year.

In the meantime, the Knicks face decisions on two of their own, a pair of popular and productive players they will try to retain - but only if it doesn't cost them too much.

New York's goal remains to be a major player next summer, and not overspend in 2009.

"I'm always looking at 2010, because I want to be in the free agent market in a big way," team president Donnie Walsh said.

That's why a player like Lee will become a free agent. The Knicks could have extended him and Robinson before last season, and teams often take that option. Walsh, however, didn't want to make any commitments without seeing how they fit into coach Mike D'Antoni's system.

"You don't normally have a guy like this in free agency," Lee's agent, Mark Bartelstein, said of his client. "Usually these guys are extended before they get there."

Lee went on to lead the NBA with 65 double-doubles and rank in the top 10 in rebounding and field goal percentage, averaging 16 points and 11.7 boards. Robinson also had the best season of his career, scoring 17.2 points per game as one of the league's top sixth men.

Both are restricted free agents, meaning the Knicks can match an offer they receive. Walsh said he tries to make a fair offer first, but knows he has options if that doesn't go far.

"You try to discuss what the numbers are and if you're really far apart in restricted free agency then you keep talking, but you're almost saying, 'Well, you better prove it to me,"' Walsh said.

That won't be easy this summer, because there aren't many teams who have money and want to spend it. The economy has hit some teams hard, and others prefer to wait until 2010, for what could be one of the strongest free agency classes ever.

The Knicks understand that, but also realize one of those teams with money, such as Detroit or Oklahoma City, could make a strong bid that would change their strategy.

"Problem is, you can have a feeling where the league is, but it just takes one person to buck that trend," D'Antoni said.

Robinson made $2 million and Lee a little less in the final years of their rookie contracts, and both will seek much larger deals. Lee likely has a better chance to get it, especially from the Knicks, with Bartelstein noting the 6-foot-9 forward has improved every season.

But after devoting last season to untangling the Knicks' salary cap mess, Walsh doesn't plan to overspend.

"The one thing is, if you don't want to, you don't have to lose them, but you might have to pay them a lot more," Walsh said. "That's the decision that we have to make."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: June 30, 2009


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