Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.
No bonus for Nate
Remember that bonus Donnie Walsh included when he signed David Lee and Nate Robinson to one-year contracts last September? It awarded each player $1 million if the team made the playoffs.
Lee saw that million disappear sometime in February, when the Knicks plummetted out of playoff contention. But Robinson still had a chance at making that money when he was traded to the Celtics at the deadline on Feb. 18. Boston, the Atlantic Division champions, were a playoff lock.
But according to ESPN.com's superblogger Henry Abbott, Robinson did not get his money. Why? Abbott reports there was a games-played requirement to kick in the bonus. Robinson had to appear in 58 games this season.
He played in 56.
Immediately you look to the month of December, when Mike D'Antoni benched Nate for all but one game that month (for the record, at 9-6 it was their only winning month of the season). For Nate, that was 14 games right there. He was also away from the team for the two games after the All-Star break (and right before the trade deadline).
Robinson appeared in 30 of 53 games with the Knicks before the trade deadline. He then missed three games after the trade deadline (Robinson had the flu and the Celtics were on the West Coast) before he made his debut with the Celtics on Feb. 23 (against, coincidentally, the Knicks).
At that point, there were 28 games left in the Celtics' season, which means Robinson would have to have played in every game to clinch his playoff bonus trigger.
It is here we should point out that at the time of the trade, we were told the Celtics were indeed aware of the bonus. Not happy about it, but aware. The Knicks were not obligated to kick in.
Doc Rivers sat Robinson for the April 4 game against the Cavaliers, which was Robinson's first DNP-CD with the Celtics. That killed his chances at the bonus.
As Abbott points out, Rivers played all of his starters in that game and was working in new addition Michael Finley. Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen played 41 minutes each and Tony Allen (18:43) was the only guard off the bench.
As we've seen in the playoffs, Doc has pretty much stuck with this as a three-guard rotation and he was probably using the Cavs game to give it a look. So there likely wasn't a conspiracy to bench Robinson so the team wouldn't have to pay the million bucks. But I couldn't help but recall a similar situation in 1999-2000, when Roberto Luongo was a young goalie with the Islanders and had a games played bonus in his contract. The franchise back then was so cheap that to avoid paying the bonus, they suddenly stopped playing him late in a lost season rather than continue to let him get experience and develop.
Robinson played 26 games with the Celtics and averaged 14.7 minutes per game. He averaged just 6.5 points per game and shot 40.1 percent from the field, the latter of which is likely the motivation behind Robinson's omission from the rotation.
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* - David Lee is still making appearances as a Knick. On Wednesday he was at the Empire State Building to "flip the switch" to turn on yellow lights (did you notice?) to honor Project Sunshine Week.
While we debate what type of center you'd need to put next to Lee, the power forward seemed to have it figured out yesterday as he was flanked by SI swimsuit models Christine Teigen and Esti Ginzburg.
Yes, you're welcome for the links.
* - Chris Bosh is at it again on Twitter. His latest action is to change his profile, with his location changed from Toronto to "Everywhere" and his bio no longer makes reference to him being captain of the Raptors. Bosh has an opt-out this summer and it seems pretty clear he plans to exercise it.