Knicks president Donnie Walsh and the agent for restricted free agent David Lee plan to speak after Labor Day, and both sides are hopeful they can resolve the power forward's contract stalemate before the team reports to training camp at the end of the month.
Don't read too much into reports elsewhere that Walsh and agent Mark Bartelstein are on the verge of agreeing on a one-year deal that would make Lee an unrestricted free agent next summer. That's clearly where this is going, but nothing has changed on the Lee front for at least a month, Bartelstein said Friday. As we've reported here previously, Walsh and Bartelstein both recognize that a one-year deal is the only possible outcome here if a sign-and-trade or long-term deal can't be consummated. (Well, Lee sitting out the entire season is another possible outcome, but let's not be ignorant.) Anyway, Bartelstein said Friday that he and Walsh haven't even exchanged contract figures on a one-year deal yet. And based on Bartelstein's comments, that aspect of the negotiation could be somewhat time-consuming.
"If we can't do a sign-and-trade, we'll come up with a deal that pays David for one year based upon who he is as a player and based on comparables and playing for the minimum for four years and being their best player," Bartelstein said. "(Walsh) wants to do the right thing for someone who clearly deserves a long-term deal, but the organization has clearly decided not to do a long-term deal."
In short, don't waste any of your Labor Day weekend contemplating the significance of Lee being a Knick next season. For a restricted free agent faced with a marketplace featuring only three teams with significant cap space -- and with his own team hoarding cap space for next summer -- that has, for weeks, been the only way this was going to end.