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David Lee lures offers as deadline approaches

With the trade deadline approaching Thursday, David Lee has been the most requested Knicks player in calls fielded by Donnie Walsh. But Stephon Marbury's expiring deal has also drawn some interest from what is developing into a seller's market around the NBA, though the teams that have inquired were mainly looking to dump salary on the Knicks.

"So far, I haven't seen anything that would benefit us," Walsh said of the interest.

One team that is believed to have asked about Marbury is the Sacramento Kings, a franchise believed to be in serious financial distress because its owners, the Maloof family, lost hundreds of millions in the alleged Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.

The Celtics Tuesday opened up a roster spot when they traded veteran Sam Cassell to the Kings for a future second-round pick, which raised eyebrows around the league. Were the defending champions making room for Marbury? If so, one minor detail remains to be completed: a buyout with the Knicks, which gets cheaper by the week. There is roughly $6.4 million left to be paid on Marbury's $20.8-million salary this season.

Walsh said he has stayed in touch with NBA Players Association associate counsel Hal Biagas, who has represented Marbury in the buyout talks. If Marbury came to the Knicks looking for a mutual agreement, Walsh believes the situation could be resolved quickly.

Then again, Marbury could also remain on the roster after the trade deadline expires at 3 p.m. Thursday and even for the remainder of the season with the Knicks, who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday.

"I basically haven't answered any Stephon questions," Walsh said, "because it's all hypothetical."

What isn't at this point of the season, with the deadline closing in? The Knicks would have loved to have gotten involved in talks for Tyson Chandler, but the Hornets caught some teams by surprise when he was quickly dealt yesterday to Oklahoma City for Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox in an obvious salary dump. Amare Stoudemire's name is still out there, but one Western Conference executive said he believed it was more likely that the Phoenix Suns would first move Shaquille O'Neal, though the Chicago Bulls are believed to be in hot pursuit of Stoudemire.

One player the Knicks may target in the 2010 free agency sweepstakes, Raptors forward Chris Bosh, has come up in some trade scenarios, though it is doubtful Toronto general manager Bryan Colangelo has any real plans to move Bosh. The Knicks obviously would love to get involved if he did.

The Nets reportedly are involved in talks with the Rockets that would send Vince Carter to Houston in a deal for Tracy McGrady. The Rockets also apparently sent a feeler out to the Knicks about McGrady, but despite having a hefty contract that expires in 2010, the Knicks were not interested in the chronically injured fading star.

But aside from the usual Isiah Thomas Effect -- teams call the Knicks to dump off long-term contracts to get cap relief -- Walsh isn't exactly enjoying any bidding wars, though he did try to shoot down the notion that no one really wants anything on their roster.

"There's interest in our players," Walsh said. "Obviously, one guy is wanted more than others."

That would be Lee, who will be a restricted free agent this summer. And despite a possible asking price of $10 million a year, Walsh isn't desperate to trade Lee or the team's other pending restricted free agent, Nate Robinson, before the deadline. It's most likely that both players will be on the roster after the deadline.

"I would like to remind you, this isn't going to be your first time at bat," Walsh said. "There are other times you can trade. We're mindful of that."

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