In the 2016 NBA free agency, the New York Knicks decided to sign Courtney Lee with the belief that he could help Carmelo Anthony bring the team back to title contention. Unfortunately, the Knicks’ “Super Team” didn’t live up to expectations and even failed to earn a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. With the Knicks still in the middle of the rebuilding process, New York is no longer an ideal place to stay for the 32-year-old veteran shooting guard.
As of now, multiple signs are pointing out that the Knicks will part ways with Courtney Lee before the February NBA trade deadline. Lee is aware that his days in New York are already numbered. According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Lee preferred to be traded to a playoff team or a title contender.
“Courtney Lee arrived a week and a half ago at the Knicks’ Tarrytown training center for voluntary workouts, gearing up for Monday’s start of training camp. The Knicks guard just doesn’t know how long he’ll be there. According to an NBA source, Lee’s preference if he gets traded is to be dealt to a playoff team or a contender. It’s an understandable wish formulated during an offseason spent in Orlando and Los Angeles as he saw the Knicks franchise’s youthful direction.”
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) September 19, 2018
The Knicks won’t mind losing Courtney Lee since they still have younger guards like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Frank Ntilikina. Successfully getting rid of Lee and the remaining $25 million on his contract will help the Knicks open more salary cap space for the summer of 2019. The 2019 NBA free agency will be loaded with several NBA superstars like Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Kemba Walker, DeMarcus Cousins, and DeAndre Jordan.
Though Lee is currently considered as the odd man out in New York, he could still be useful to a team who dreams of contending for the NBA championship title next season. At 32, the veteran remains a reliable contributor on both ends of the floor. In 76 games he played last season, Lee averaged 12.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.1 steals on 45.4 percent shooting from the field and 40.6 percent beyond the arc.
Once Lee becomes officially available on the trading block, Berman sees the Philadephia 76ers and the Minnesota Timberwolves as potential trade destinations for the veteran shooting guard. The Sixers were one of the NBA teams who tried to sign him in the 2016 NBA free agency, and as Berman noted, Philadephia remains interested in adding Lee to their team. Meanwhile, if the meeting between Jimmy Butler and the Timberwolves won’t go well, Berman suggested that the Knicks could include Lee in the trade package to acquire the All-Star guard from Minnesota.