July 1 marks the start of NBA free agency. That means the courting of David Lee has begun.
Lee, a double-double machine as a starter with the New York Knicks last season, reportedly received his opening offer from the Knicks. According to the New York Daily News, the team has offered Lee a four-year deal at $36 million, far south of the rumored $10 million per season Lee’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, is seeking.
“There’s no question he’d love to stay in New York,” Bartelstein told the Daily News Tuesday. “But you are only a free agent so many times in your career, especially in the prime of your career.”
The interest in Lee, who led the league in double-doubles last season, seems to be heavy. CBS Sportsline is reporting that Lee is likely to be priced out of the Knicks’ budget. The high offers are expected to come from Memphis or Oklahoma City, both of which hoped to have a shot at Jazz forward Carlos Boozer, who opted to stay out of free agency with one more year in Utah.
The Thunder are reportedly prepping an offer for Boozer’s teammate, Paul Millsap. If Millsap balks at the numbers, the team is likely to turn to Lee. Millsap has said in recent days that he wants a contract similar to Lee’s, as he sees his game as similar to the St. Louis native.
The Knicks are expected to remain frugal throughout the summer as they position their salary cap for next year’s free agency bonanza. That means that the team will likely keep its offer around the $8 million per season mark and won’t be as willing to match a larger offer.
Lee is a restricted free agent and New York has the right to match any offer sheet he signs.
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There’s another former Gator on the free-agent market, though he’s not as likely to get calls on day one.
Jason Williams is still contemplating a return to the hardcourt after sitting out last season in retirement.
Williams filed his retirement paperwork before the season and tried to return to action around the midway point. He needed a unanimous vote from league owners to return, but did not get it. He’s free to return at any time now that he’s sat out the season.
During a recent autograph signing appearance in his home state of West Virginia, Williams discussed a return with the Charleston Daily Mail.
“I’m not 100 percent that I’ll play again, but it’s more than 50/50 that I’m going to try. But if it doesn’t happen, trust me, I won’t lose any sleep,” he said.
Williams’ chances at a return may be hurt by the glut of point guards that entered the league in June’s NBA Draft. There’s always a few teams looking for a veteran point guard during the season, but it’s unknown what kind of shape this veteran is in after a year out of the league.
“I don’t know if (a season off) helps or hurts,” Williams told the Daily News. “Those guys are getting faster and stronger. I’m getting older and the other guys seem to get younger and younger.”
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Joakim Noah’s breakout season with the Chicago Bulls may have earned him a spot in the 2012 Olympics.
The French National team recently contacted Noah about working with the club over the summer. The team wanted Noah to spend most of his offseason training in France, but the former Gator opted instead to focus on year three of his NBA career and will continue working out at the IMG Academy in South Florida.
He did agree, however, to travel to France and spend 10 days working with the team. From there, the two sides will decide the best course of action.