If the New York Knicks have had a fan favorite over the last three years, it's been David Lee. The forward's hustle and rebounding skill has been appreciated by otherwise disgusted Garden crowds who begged Isiah Thomas to move him from the bench to the starting lineup. That move finally appears to be set in stone, but new GM Donnie Walsh is still going to pass on offering him a contract extension.
According to the New York Post, Walsh has already let Lee and his agent know that the team is going to let the October 31st deadline pass with no new deal. That means Lee becomes a restricted free agent after the season, it does not mean he's going to be leaving the Knicks. The team can still sign him next summer but he's not allowed to sign a deal at any point during the upcoming season.
While Lee has done well for the Knicks, it's hard to fault Walsh. He's new, not even through his first preseason with the team, and it's an open secret that the team wants to have the salary cap flexibility necessary to make a 2010 push for LeBron James. He knows he can match any offer Lee would get after the season and doesn't want to fork over a big deal that makes him look bad at some point down the road.
All that said, Lee would be a good running mate for James. In the fantasy world that has James wearing orange and blue, Lee would be a good guy to have around doing the dirty work that superstars need done. He doesn't need the ball on offense, doesn't mind getting dirty and, as mentioned above, popular with the little people. That last point shouldn't make the deal happen but it shouldn't be ignored by a team that's exhausted a good deal of their goodwill.