Blazers wooed Knick heavi-Lee

Peter Vescey

MOST of us — me included — only know what newspaper and on-line accounts disseminated about the NBA during the offseason.

That means that the well-read majority believe restricted free agent David Lee had no other choice but to re-sign with the Knicks for one year, albeit at the exceedingly generous figure of $7 million (far above his CBA-defined qualifying offer of $2.6 million, the first time in league history anyone has exceeded his entitlement), in addition to a $1 million bonus should somehow they crash the playoff party.KNICKS BLOG

So, I was startled a few days ago to learn from Lee he actually had a considerably more lucrative, long-term option.

After being out-recruited by the Raptors for Hedo Turkoglu’s multi-talented services (any cryonicists who came in from the cold to watch Orlando throughout the playoffs may well have judged him to be its .400 hitter), and signing restricted free agent Paul Millsap to a fancy, front-loaded guarantee — only to see the capsized Jazz match seven days later — the Blazers zeroed in on the NBA’s double-double champ.

But Portland insisted Lee make up his mind quickly. Andre Miller was their next target and his Philadelphia Freedom had no strings attached. A well-do*****ented sitdown took place in Las Vegas, attended by Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard, coach Nate McMillian, Chicago-based agent Mark Bartelstein and Lee. Unreported was the Blazers’ solid pitch.

"They felt I’d fit in perfectly with LaMarcus and Aldridge," Lee said. "Believe me, I was flattered. They’ve got a great team."

No firm offer was made that evening, says a Blazer source. However, it was felt a satisfactory compromise could be reached (Bartelstein wanted $50 million over five, Portland countered with $28 million over four with an escape clause after three) if Lee told them he was as serious about them as they were in him.

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