I think every Knicks fan has come to love David Lee. On a team that never hustled, he hustled. On a team that under-achieved, he over-achieved. On a team that didn't care, he cared. Who wouldn't like a player that has shown the heart and dedication that Lee has?
D'Antoni has come out a praised Lee for his effort and I think he genuinely likes him as a player. The bad news is that Lee is a restricted free agent this summer and will likely fetch a deal worth $7-10 million a year.
Of course the Knicks will not be able to pay this because they'll need that space in 2010. So, Lee is going to be gone sooner than later. With the trade deadline looming on February 19th, you have already started to hear rumors about Lee being traded. The latest rumor has him in a package going to Portland for some combination of Travis Outlaw, Channing Frye, Jerryd Bayless, and/or Rudy Fernandez. Eddy Curry has been mentioned as part of this deal as well.
Knicks fans understood the Crawford and Randolph trades because of the need to clear cap room. The "understanding" of Knicks fans will be tested with the trade of their favorite player. Donnie Walsh knows this, so expect the Knicks either to get something good for Lee (like Rudy Fernandez) or force the team that gets Lee to take Curry (clearing more room for 2010).
The bottom line is that Lee is a virtual lock to be traded.