David Lee would like to stay in New York, but really would like to get paid

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nba_lee_250.jpgDonnie Walsh has done a good job cleaning up the dung pile — and an expensive one at that — of a roster he was left with. New York is not a city renowned for patience, but it was warranted in this case as there was a lot of shoveling to do. Fans understood that.

Now, the Knicks have cap space and maneuverability — enough to get two max level free agents this summer. That is, if they jettison the rights to the one All Star they have: David Lee.

Lee told the New York Post he wants to stay in the land of the thin crust pizza, but in the end it’s going to be about money, for both him and the Knicks. And it’s going to take time for anything to happen.

“This is where I want to be,” Lee told The Post during an appearance at the Empire State Building, where he volunteered his efforts for a non-profit organization. “I enjoy it here. I love the city. I have a lot of friends in the franchise. I do have ties here.

“They say the two hardest things to deal with [in New York] are the media and the fans, but I’ve found that to be the exact opposite. Having a following here is gonna make the Knicks want to sign me more and makes me want to be in New York.”

“We’re gonna have to see what happens,” Lee said. “If they get two or three of those guys, there won’t be 50 cents to give to me. Winning is a huge priority. . . . Just finding a situation that fits, a situation that makes sense, quality of life factor, then also the financial side of it because this is a business.”

“It’s looking like a lot of these guys may stay put, but those kinds of opinions can change really quickly,” Lee said. “If the Knicks are waiting on Lebron’s [James] decision, that could affect their entire free agency.”

It’s going to be an interesting summer free agency — a lot of the market will wait until the big three dominos drop (LeBron, Wade and Bosh). But someone smart is going to make an early run with a good offer at Lee (and other second tier free agents) while the market is slow, and they could get their man with that move.

July will be crazy. And on the other end of it, David Lee is going to be a lot richer.

Nets once thought they were trading for No. 2 overall pick, would have gotten Bulls’ second first-rounder

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A Wizards-Suns-Grizzlies trade just fell apart because the teams confused which Brooks was involved. Phoenix thought it was getting Dillon Brooks. Memphis thought it was sending MarShon Brooks.

But this isn’t the first time wires got crossed in trade discussions.

Former Nets executive Bobby Marks of ESPN:

The closest it’s ever happened – and this is a funny story – is that in 2006, we thought we getting the second overall pick in the draft from Chicago. And we were going to pick LaMarcus Aldridge. And it wound up being that Chicago was offering us their second first-round pick in the draft, which was pick 16. It turned into Rodney Carney. So, that’s the closest that we’ve ever come to backing out or a deal was agreed upon and going from there.

The Bulls might as well have sent the No. 2 to pick to the Nets. On draft night, Chicago dealt No. 2 pick LaMarcus Aldridge to the Trail Blazers for No. 4 pick Tyrus Thomas and Viktor Khryapa. The Bulls got more value from No. 16 pick Rodney Carney, trading up with the 76ers for No. 13 pick Thabo Sefolosha, who was a helpful role player in Chicago then flipped for a pick that became Taj Gibson. In that 2006 draft, the Nets picked Marcus Williams No. 22 and Josh Boone No. 23.

The big difference between this non-deal and the Brooks mishap: It didn’t reach the point active players were informed and details were leaked to the media. That’s harder to walk back and maybe part of the reason the Suns and Wizards still swapped Trevor Ariza for Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers after the Grizzlies pulled out.

Report: Trevor Ariza ‘checked out mentally’ with Suns

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Why did Trevor Ariza leave the Rockets, who came as close as anyone to beating the Kevin Durant-boosted Warriors in the playoffs, for the lowly Suns?

Money.

Ariza signed a one-year, $15 million contract with Phoenix last summer. That salary likely far surpasses what Ariza could have gotten elsewhere – especially Houston, where the Rockets are wary of the luxury tax.

Predictably, a veteran signing with bad team for a quick paycheck turned out poorly. The Suns traded Ariza to the Wizards essentially as soon as he became eligible to be dealt.

Duane Rankin of azcentral:

According to league sources, this was a “mutual” decision between Ariza and the Suns.

Ariza checked out mentally early in the season, according to sources. After practices would ended, he’d leave before everyone else, when that’s usually an opportunity to bond.

He’d break from the team huddle before his teammates and wasn’t engaged.

Signing Ariza to that contract was always part of a bad plan. He didn’t put the Suns over the top, and that money could have gone to a player with a future in Phoenix.

Sure, it would have been nice for Ariza to lead and mentor more. He could have served as a better example for the young Suns.

But it’s not easy to go from the peak of competition to a quickly lost season. Ariza’s misery was predictable and understandable.

It spread to the court, too. He’s having arguably the worst season of his career.

Washington hopes Ariza will play better there. He’s better cast as a glue guy on a good team.

However, it’s unclear whether Ariza will actually be rejuvenated by the Wizards, who’ve been stuck in their own turmoil. There’s also risk Ariza, 33, has declined due to age in ways that won’t simply reverse in a better environment.

At least he ends his depressing Phoenix chapter. This will be the lasting scene of his time there. Gina Mizell of The Athletic:

Devin Booker calls out Enes Kanter’s defense after Suns beat Knicks

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In a Knicks’ win over the Suns last January, Enes Kanter irritated Devin Booker into pushing him. The Phoenix guard got ejected then had to deal with Kanter’s online trash-talking afterward.

So, this retweet – following the Suns’ win over New York last night – was nearly a year in the making.

Booker:

There are two possible responses here. I’m not sure which is correct.

1. Booker shouldn’t criticize anyone else’s defense before looking in the mirror.

2. Kanter’s defense is so bad, even Booker is mocking it.

James Harden on double-stepback uncalled travel: ‘What do you want me to say? Tell on myself?’ (video)

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James Harden is difficult enough to defend when officiated correctly.

When he can get away with this? There’s nearly no stopping him. That was a big uncalled travel in the Rockets’ win over the Jazz last night.

Harden, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

“What do you want me to say? Tell on myself?” Harden said.

Fair.

Unlike that call.