The New York Knicks aren't going to contend for a title any time soon, so they've wisely decided to plan for the future rather than trying to stay afloat in the Eastern Conference playoff race. That started when they traded Carmelo Anthony before last season, and it continued when they drafted two high-ceiling prospects in the first round of the NBA Draft: Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson. They'll join Kristaps Porzingis (once he returns from injury) as the future of the Knicks franchise.
One player who's apparently not part of that "future" could be Courtney Lee.
In an Instagram post designed to get fans excited for the "Future of New York," the Knicks featured a mash-up of Porzingis, Knox, Robinson, Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Lance Thomas, Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke.
Noticeably absent is Lee, who led the Knicks in total minutes last season. Hmmm.
As Lee was scrolling through Instagram, he noticed the Knicks' post and decided to chime in, saying "there I go" accompanied by a crying laughing emoji. Apparently Lee is taking this as a sign that he's not long for New York, and that a trade could be in the works.
This is similar to when Knicks president Steve Mills failed to mention Anthony as one of the Knicks' key players in his introductory press conference last summer (Anthony was traded to the Thunder three months later). Going farther back, we all remember when LeBron James strategically decided not to name No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins in his famous "I'm Coming Home" piece in Sports Illustrated (Wiggins was later traded in a deal for Kevin Love).
Lee, 32, still has two more years left on his contract with the Knicks, making over $12 million each season. Given the rebuilding situation in New York, it makes sense for the Knicks to try to unload Lee, who could provide considerable value to a contender given his 3-and-D ability, in exchange for a young prospect and/or draft picks. They could also take on some bad money from a team to sweeten the deal. For example, the Phoenix Suns are clearly trying to make the jump from bottom-feeder to respectability, so perhaps the Knicks could take on Brandon Knight's expiring contract and a draft pick and send Lee to Phoenix.
There are plenty of possibilities, but it looks like at this point it's a matter of when, not if, Lee will be traded by the Knicks.