Lee sought a multiyear contract. But
with the Knicks hoping to save salary cap room for the summer of 2010,
he had to settle for the chance to become an unrestricted free agent
Lee averaged 16 points and 11.7 rebounds last season. He led the NBA with 65 double-doubles and was third in rebounding.
Yahoo! Sports first reported the deal Thursday.
Lee became a restricted free agent
this summer, meaning the Knicks would have had seven days to match any
offer he received. His agent, Mark Bartelstein, said some teams were
interested in sign-and-trade deals, but none that the Knicks liked.
Knicks president Donnie Walsh had
said he wasn't going to offer more than one-year deals in this
offseason. Next year's class of free agents is expected to be
especially lush and many teams, including the Knicks, want to save
their money until then.
"It was a very, very unique set of circumstances. A perfect storm of what you'd not want in free agency," Bartelstein said.
The Knicks could have forced Lee to accept the team's qualifying offer, which Bartelstein said was under $3 million.
"I think they really wanted to show
David great respect for what he's done for the organization. They came
and met us and did something that was very unique," Bartelstein said.
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