It was a very good weekend for the Knicks as a team. Two wins, including their first victory over a decent squad, and a winning record through six games are reasons for good cheer. For one Knick in particular, though, this weekend was a little light on individual success. For once, we aren't talking about Stephon Marbury.
David Lee was removed from the starting lineup before Friday's win against Washington, and he remained on the bench when last night's game with Utah started. Mike D'Antoni explained the first game by saying the matchup, Antwan Jamison and Caron Butler, called for a more agile front line, but Utah features the beastly Carlos Boozer up front. Wilson Chandler still got the call, however, and his game appears to be a better for the D'Antoni scheme.
It's not like Lee is joining Marbury and Eddy Curry in a Three Stooges for the new millenium. He's still playing plenty and turned in strong performances in each game. That doesn't mean that he's long for the Knicks world, though. He'll be a restricted free agent this summer, in line for a big raise and extension that the Knicks didn't give him when they had a shot. Since Donnie Walsh didn't want to lock in a future with Lee at that price, he may want to see what he can turn Lee into on the trade market.
There have long been suitors for Lee, whose game matches just about every team's style, and Walsh could kill two birds in one deal. Lee could be the sweetener in a deal that rids the team of Curry and his contract. Since the brain trust has already confirmed that they're willing to sacrifice short-term success for gains in the future, such a deal would have to be something they'd consider.
Lee's popular and trading him would be met with some dismay from the fans. The new regime is quickly building confidence in their plan, though, and they could leverage that to pull off a trade featuring a beloved player they don't see as part of their future.