David Before Goliath: 2010 Is All About LeBron, But 2009 Should Belong to Lee

Lou CappettaAnalyst IIFebruary 8, 2009

If you follow NBA basketball at all, then you should already know that LeBron James is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2009-'10 season. If you are a fan of a particular team, chances are your team is feverishly trying to free up salary cap space for that off-season.

Indeed the free agent class of 2010 is an impressive group of players. Lebron James may be the grand prize, but there are plenty of consolation prizes that will have teams thinking playoffs.

Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Steve Nash, Amare Stoudamire, Ray Allen, Joe Johnson, Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Dirk Nowitzki, Manu Ginobili, and Richard Jefferson are also scheduled to become unrestricted free agents that offseason, a list that reads more like an all star roster than a list of players that could be changing teams.

The New York Knicks, a franchise that has hit rock bottom, have made no effort to hide the fact that they are looking ahead to the summer of 2010.

Since Donnie Walsh has taken over for Isaiah Thomas as team president, the roster has almost been completely turned over with an emphasis of getting under the salary cap by 2010.

Walsh and the Knicks are borderline sacrificing this season and next with the hopes that LeBron James will continue to have 50 point games at the Garden, but for the home team. The Knicks and their fans are looking toward the future, and hopefully they don't look past David Lee.

David Lee was selected with the last pick in first round of the 2005 NBA draft. After averaging only 16.5 MPG his rookie season, Lee made a name for himself in 2006-07 by averaging a double-double per game, despite coming off the bench.

Two years later, Lee would become not only a starter averaging 16 PPG and 11 RPG, but become the new face of the Knicks.

While it's true that Coach D'antoni's system can inflate a players numbers (Quentin Richardson), his diligent work ethic combined with his desire to do the "dirty work" on the court is a combination that hasn't been seen in a Knicks player since Charles Oakley.

The Knicks can not afford to lose him.

This off season, David Lee will become a restricted free agent, meaning that any offer he receives from other teams the Knicks will have a chance to match it. This off season will be a tough one for free agent. The teams that will be under the cap, will want to stay that way for Lebron and company the following years.

The Knicks will have plenty of money this year when Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry's contracts expire. While the Knicks will not do anything to jeopardize getting James, but they should be able to afford both. The Knicks will need a complementary big man to go with LeBron, and in case they don't get LeBron they need him even more.

The Knicks are looking toward the future, and it's about time. The light at the end of the tunnel is the summer of 2010. Hopefully the Knicks don't look so far ahead they forget about David Lee.