Knicks SG Courtney Lee has garnered trade rumors, and despite the trade deadline a few days away (Feb. 8), he is still focused on playing in New York.
When the Knicks dealt for Tim Hardaway Jr., many believed Lee would be shopped before the season even started. Instead, Knicks new front office in team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry wanted Lee to continue his role with the team, and be more aggressive on the offensive end. It was the message that was sent by former team president Phil Jackson during his exit meeting following the 2016 season as well.
"They broke down all the analytic stats and said, 'You've always been consistent. We want you to kind of step out of your comfort zone, and be aggressive, try to make plays on both ends of the court," Lee told Newsday's Al Iannazzone. "That's what I'm trying to do.
"I stayed in contact them throughout the whole summer. When they signed Tim, they told me that they envision us playing together, but they want me to go out there and be aggressive. I told them that's what I was going to do. I'm just trying to keep my word."
Lee has obliged to that request this season, averaging 13.5 points per game -- a career high. He is also shooting 42.9 percent from beyond the arc, and his production has made him a trade commodity.
It would be hard for the Knicks, who are reportedly going to be active in trade talks, to get rid of Lee based on his production. They would much rather part ways with a player like Joakim Noah, who's four-year, $72 million contract is still on the books. But teams are asking for players like Lee, Kyle O'Quinn, Willy Hernangomez, and Lance Thomas.
Lee is different than the others mentioned being that he is a team captain and leader in the locker room for the Knicks. Along with Thomas, Lee called the team together for a players' only meeting before their win over the Suns to close out their seven-game road trip.
His play has been stellar, which is why the 32-year-old understands why teams are asking about him.
"That comes with the territory," Lee said. "You play bad, you lower your status with your team and they want to trade you. You play good and you raise value with other teams so you have a chance to get traded."
Lee has been traded five times over his 10-year career.