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David Lee Misses The Knicks?

November 10, 2010

Looks like the Warriors newest big man has a strange feeling about Oakland.

From Newsday:

In the days leading up to that July night when LeBron James broadcast his highly anticipated decision, David Lee quietly agreed to make his final contribution as a Knick. Depending on James ‘ choice, Lee let the team know he would accept what according to many sources were prearranged sign-and-trade deals to the Suns or Warriors.

If LeBron had chosen New York, Lee would have gone to the Suns for Amar’e Stoudemire. Although Lee would have loved playing in Phoenix with Steve Nash , seeing what the Knicks would have become with James and Stoudemire would have been tough to take.

“All of a sudden you’d have the most high-profile team in the league,” Lee said. “Then I would be like, ‘Man, they’re having parades down Broadway because I’m gone.’ ”

Instead, they’ll just have a moment Wednesday night at the Garden, when Lee returns with the Warriors. There isn’t an elaborate welcome planned, but Lee, who averaged a double-double in three of his five playoff-less seasons as a Knick, will get his due recognition on GardenVision as one of the few memorable players from one of the worst eras in franchise history.

“I think it’s going to be a very emotional night for me,” Lee told Newsday Tuesday. “One of the things I enjoyed most in New York was the crowd and the support I got from them. I’m sure that will be evident . . . At least I hope it will be.”

Lee talked about his past and future as he cruised up Park Avenue, a visitor now in a city he wanted to call home for his career. After lunch at one of his favorite West Village spots, he got a haircut and was headed to Central Park to enjoy a picturesque autumn afternoon where he once rented a place he hoped to buy if he managed to get a long-term deal with the Knicks.

Instead, it’s Stoudemire who has the Central Park West address. He’s also sub-leasing Lee’s apartment in White Plains near the Knicks’ practice facility. As for the starting spot Lee had here? Stoudemire owns that, too.

But Stoudemire’s Knicks are only modestly improved with reasonable playoff hopes, while Lee finds himself in a good place with the young, high-energy Warriors, who are 5-2.

“I’m not going to lie to you, it’s definitely a good feeling coming back when we have some momentum and good stuff going,” Lee said. “If we were 1-6, it wouldn’t be the same feeling.”

Lee’s scoring is down (12.3 points per game) from last season (20.2), but the rebounding (11.4) is as reliable as ever. The biggest difference is that his effort, combined with the dynamic backcourt of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry , is now contributing to wins.

“That’s the one thing I thought was missing,” Lee said. “I’ve done everything: averaged 20 and 10, led the league in double-doubles, was an All-Star and all that stuff. I didn’t get a lot of satisfaction out of it because we weren’t winning as many games as I wanted to.

“That’s the most frustrating thing. I see how bad the fans in New York wanted us to win. That’s the one thing I wish we could have had: better teams.”

Lee admits he had trouble accepting it was over. Despite signing a five-year, $80-million deal with the Warriors, he worked out with his former Knicks teammates at the MSG Training Center well into September. And it wasn’t until the second game of the preseason that it finally sank in that he was no longer a Knick.

“Something as simple as coming out for my first exhibition game and realizing that I didn’t have a Knicks uniform on, I had a Warriors’ one,” Lee said, “it was a strange feeling.”

The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Knicks, MSG and Cablevision . Cablevision owns Newsday.

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