With less than a week to go before the start of training camp, the Knicks are close to contract terms with restricted free agent Nate Robinson. A source with knowledge of the situation Wednesday told Newsday that parameters of an agreement are in place for a one-year deal for an undisclosed amount higher than his qualifying offer of $2.9 million.
The contract has not yet been signed, according to a team spokesman, so there was no official announcement. But it is believed an agreement, which includes performance bonuses, will be officially finalized as early as Thursday. Camp opens Tuesday in Saratoga.
The Knicks, who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday, are in negotiations with their other restricted free agent, David Lee, who is also expected to take a one-year deal for above his qualifying offer of $2.6 million.
The 5-9 Robinson, who averaged a career-best 17.2 points per game last season, saw his popularity rise around the NBA after he captured his second Slam Dunk title during All-Star weekend. His jersey ranked 10th in sales among all NBA players last season, according to the NBA.
Though it is believed he drew some interest from the Lakers and Magic, Robinson told Knicks president Donnie Walsh that he wanted to remain in New York and had no interest in seeking offer sheets from other teams. As a restricted free agent, the Knicks would have had seven days to match any offer.
Walsh spent most of the offseason searching for help in the backcourt, with overtures to Jason Kidd, Andre Miller and Ramon Sessions. There was some reluctance to bringing the rambunctious Robinson back, mainly because of behavior issues involving his ebullient personality and penchant for one-on-one play. But Robinson's energy as the first guard off the bench - he finished third in the Sixth Man of the Year voting last season - is a valuable commodity.
He will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, but his salary will still have some impact on the Knicks' salary cap in 2010 because of an NBA stipulation known as a "cap hold." If his salary is more than half of the league average, Robinson is slotted into the 2010-11 budget at one-and-a-half times his salary until he signs a new deal or if the Knicks opt to waive his Larry Bird Rights.