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Nate Robinson in NY One More Year?

Jul 26, 2009 – 6:02 PM
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Tom Ziller

Tom Ziller %BloggerTitle%

David Lee Nate RobinsonAdrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that early this week the Knicks will sign Nate Robinson to a one-year deal at $5 million. As no teams have apparently been willing to give Nate the contract he (feels he) deserves, it's a good solution: Robinson has a job at a strong salary on a team where he can put up numbers, New York maintains some talent while escaping salary commitment beyond 2010.

In fact, it's such a good solution David Lee might want to copy it.

Lee has a very simple problem right now: no one has cap space. There's Oklahoma City and Sacramento. The former is averse to adding big contracts to its young core, and the latter is averse to adding big contracts ... period. Portland was a key suitor, but the pairing just didn't work out for either side, according to reports.

Next summer, more teams will be under the cap level and looking to add pieces. Lee's still young -- 26 -- and really really consistent. He'll almost assuredly run another double-double season. There's no shame in delaying a payday -- and recalibrating expectations.

If Lee's camp really expects $12 million, he'll never sign a long-term deal. Lee should be looking at $8-9 million in first-year salary, at least until he can prove the jumper is solid and the defense can be improved. This isn't 2003 anymore. Teams are starting to pay role players like role players, instead of throwing money at round numbers. Lee is among the best role players in the league ... but he's not a star, and he shouldn't be expected to be paid as one. Not now.

Lee is better than Robinson, and more valuable to the Knicks. So perhaps a one-year deal at $8 million is fair. But whatever the price, it'd be a good idea for Lee's camp to pursue. There really doesn't seem to be any other option out there.
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