The Knicks and David Lee had talks about a would-be reunion while Lee was in the midst of a buyout with the Celtics earlier this season, as Lee said today to reporters, including Marc Berman of the New York Post and Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter links). Lee instead wound up signing with the Mavericks on a deal that gave him more than $2MM for the rest of this season. The Knicks, who are limited to the prorated minimum salary, couldn’t have paid him that much. Still, the veteran big man is poised to become a free agent this summer, when he’ll ostensibly have another chance to join the Knicks, the team for which he played his first five NBA seasons.
Lee was one of the players in an apparent trade proposal involving Carmelo Anthony that would have sent Lee from the Celtics to the Knicks last month. The Celtics and Lee’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, cooperated to try to find a new home for the two-time All-Star, but the buyout path proved more lucrative than a trade would have been. Lee gave up just $458,575 in the buyout, much less than Dallas is paying him on his new contract.
The thought of returning to the Warriors has crossed Lee’s mind, but he was ineligible to sign with Golden State during the buyout period because the team traded him to Boston just this past summer. He’ll be able to rejoin the Warriors as soon as July if he wants, but he recently told Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com that he’d moved past any thought of returning to the Bay Area, and he’s spoken on multiple occasions about his contentment with Dallas.
The Mavs will have only Non-Bird rights on Lee, sharply limiting their ability to go over the cap to re-sign him, though Dallas, like the Knicks, will have the chance to open plenty of cap room in the summer ahead. The same isn’t true of the Warriors, who already have $73MM in guaranteed salary commitments with Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli headed for restricted free agency.