Courtney Lee to Knicks: Latest Contract Details, Reaction

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist

MIAMI, FL - MAY 1:  Courtney Lee #1 of the Charlotte Hornets shoots the ball against the Miami Heat in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs on May 1, 2016 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

Courtney Lee has never been a star, but he's found himself emerging as a starter at every stop on his NBA journey. After years of being underappreciated as a three-and-D guy, Lee found a home with the New York Knicks. The Knicks announced the signing on Friday. 

According to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders on July 2, Lee and the Knicks agreed to a four-year, $50 million contract. Ian Begley of ESPN.com confirmed the deal.

Lee, 30, split last season between the Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Hornets. He averaged 9.6 points and 2.6 rebounds while appearing in 79 games.

The Knicks will be Lee's seventh team as he heads into his ninth NBA season. A 2008 first-round pick, Lee also played for the Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets (then in New Jersey), Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics.

It's been a busy offseason for the Knicks, who added Derrick Rose in a trade with the Chicago Bulls and also agreed to terms with Joakim Noah in free agency, according to Newsday's Al Iannazzone.

According to Begley, a source said Lee's deal with the Knicks "would not have happened without [Noah]. Courtney understands what playing for the New York Knicks means. He wanted to play in New York and [Noah] was instrumental in recruiting him. Would not have happened without Joakim. Courtney couldn't be more excited."

The new pieces will join Carmelo Anthony and budding star Kristaps Porzingis, as the Knicks look to claw their way back into relevancy in a wide-open Eastern Conference.

Lee has been almost eerily consistent since arriving in the NBA. He's never done much to grab rebounds or dish assists, keeping his usage low as a floor-spacer and a solid wing defender on the other end. His true shooting percentage has never been higher than 57.4 percent or lower than 52.5 percent. His player efficiency rating has rested between 10.7 and 13.8 for his career, typically falling in the 11-12 range.

The only time he had a "bad" season was when the Nets asked him to step into a too-big role. As he's settled into his career arc as a serviceable starting wing, Lee has been fine at every NBA stop. 

Charlotte also seemed like a solid match for his skill set. The Hornets built themselves into a playoff team by emphasizing a three-heavy system in which Lee fit perfectly. He told Sam Perley of the Hornets' official website he was open to a return:

Of course I would like to be [back]. [I] got a chance to build chemistry and friendships with the guys since I’ve been here, and it’s been fun playing with them. Everybody is just playing together. There’s no egos out there at all. It’s always about making the right play and the best play to help win, and that’s the kind of guys I want to be on a team with.

Still, with the NBA seeing a massive rise in cap space, non-max free agents were always bound to have an interesting summer. Lee made $5.6 million last season. He's worth more under the new cap structure, but the question was always how much. Can a team justify paying a middling guard more than $10 million per season? 

The Knicks apparently set the market value for players like Lee, and the Hornets weren't willing to meet the price. That's a shame because Lee fit well in Charlotte, but it isn't a surprise in a summer filled with veterans chasing more money than they've ever seen. 


Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.


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