Nate Robinson's Agent Calls It '100 Percent' He Will Return to New York
"Yes, I'm 100 percent sure of that,'' his agent, Aaron Goodwin, said Tuesday in an interview with FanHouse. "Where else is he going to go?''
Well, the 5-foot-9 guard is a restricted free agent. And, while it's highly unlikely a team would put an offer down on him at this late stage and in this economy, isn't that still a possibility?
"No,'' Goodwin said. "Nate has made it clear from the start that he only wants to play for New York. After July 1, we didn't talk to any other teams.''
That includes other countries.
"That was never a consideration,'' Goodwin said of Robinson possibly going overseas after reports surfaced over the summer he was pondering signing with the Greek team Olympiakos.
Goodwin expects Robinson to return to New York on a one-year deal, which would make him an unrestricted free agent next summer. Goodwin expects a deal will be finalized by next week.
It remains to be seen what type of salary Robinson, who last season averaged a career-high 17.2 points, might be able to get. He can return to New York for a figure equal to his one-year qualifying offer of $2.9 million, which appears to be the most likely scenario.
While Goodwin wouldn't discuss dollars, those close to situation wonder if there is any need for the Knicks to give Robinson more money, especially with the team having to pay the dollar-for-dollar luxury tax. The only reason the Knicks might want to pay more would be as a goodwill gesture.
Then again, the Knicks are carving out loads of cap room to take advantage of the star-studded class free agency class of 2010. So they might not look to retain Robinson next summer.
A source said the Robinson situation has dragged on because the Knicks established it as a priority in free agency to determine the fate of restricted free-agent forward David Lee before addressing Robinson. If there is a sign-and-trade done for Lee, pieces brought back could affect how the Knicks look at Robinson.
"Nothing is done yet, but we're talking,'' Lee's agent, Mark Bartelstein, said Tuesday in an interview with FanHouse about his client. "There are still some sign-and-trade scenarios that are being discussed or going back to the Knicks.''
Bartelstein said that, if Lee were to return to New York, it would be on a one-year deal. That would be to preserve the Knicks' cap money for next summer.
A source close to the situation said Lee has no interest in returning to the Knicks for an amount equal to his $2.7 million qualifying offer. In order to get Lee, who averaged 16.0 points and 11.7 rebounds last season, into training camp on time, New York would need to offer a one-year deal worth a good bit more.
Bartelstein wouldn't talk money. However, he expressed confidence Lee would start training camp on time with the Knicks barring a sign-and-trade to another team.
A message left for Knicks president Donnie Walsh was not immediately returned.
In the meantime, Robinson is ready to return to New York for his fifth NBA season, all with the Knicks. After Robinson last February during All-Star Weekend won his second slam-dunk contest crown, Nike put up an 80-foot-high billboard in midtown Manhattan of Robinson.
"He likes the city,'' Goodwin said of why Robinson has determined he wants return to New York and not look elsewhere. "He loves the fans. The fans have embraced him. Nobody expected he would have the magnitude that he has had there.''
Robinson, one of the NBA's top sixth men last season, will look this season to pick up with the Knicks where he left off. Where he ends up next summer remains to be seen.
KURZ TO CLEVELAND: Bartelstein said his cleint, free-agent forward Rob Kurz, will attend Cleveland's training camp on a non-guaranteed contract.
"I think that's a really good fit for him,'' Bartelstein said. "I think he's got a chance to make the team.''
Kurz, who averaged 3.9 points last season as a rookie with Golden State, will sign for the NBA minimum in his classification of $736,420.