CARLOS BOOZER HAS KNICKS BUZZING
LEE, NATE DEALS MUST HAPPEN SOON

By MARC BERMAN

LAS VEGAS -- Donnie Walsh says he has intensified negotiations with David Lee and Nate Robinson, and indicated if something isn't done this week, it may not happen at all.

The Knicks president also acknowledged interest in trading for on-the-block Jazz All-Star forward Carlos Boozer, who could more than replace Lee. But it seems a long shot because several teams, including the Bulls, are involved. A three-team deal has been discussed for the Bulls' Kirk Hinrich. Boozer averaged 20.2 points and 13.4 rebounds last season.

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"I'm not sure we have anybody they want," Walsh said of the Jazz.

According to a source, Walsh loves Boozer's inside game and his contract, which has just one year left on it. Walsh believes Boozer will be traded and has spoken to the Jazz.

"Everyone knows the Knicks are after one-year contracts," the source said.

The Jazz are contemplating matching a $32 million offer sheet to their own free agent, Paul Millsap, only if they can deal Boozer, a rugged power forward. Boozer has one year and $12.6M left on his pact, and the Knicks would own his Bird rights if they wanted to re-sign the All-Star power forward in 2010. The Knicks' best pawn is the expiring pact of retired Cuttino Mobley, which is covered mostly by insurance.

Since the Knicks were rejected by Grant Hill, Walsh is zeroing in on Lee, though a major road block still seems to exist with agent Mark Bartelstein's asking price of at least $10 million a year.

Robinson, also without an offer sheet, is more likely to sign a one-year qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next season.

"I've talked to both agents and it's going to be ongoing this week," Walsh said. "(We've) gotten the other way, trying to deal with them ourselves. If that doesn't work, maybe we go another direction after that. If it's not getting done now, it's not getting done."

The Knicks' thinking on Boozer is he would increase the likelihood of another star free agent coming aboard in 2010, though Walsh likely would have to gain more cap space.

Bartelstein said he has spoken to the Jazz about Lee, but would not say if it included a sign-and-trade scenario with Boozer. Bartelstein has spoken to multiple teams about sign-and-trades, but the Knicks would only do it if the player coming back has a one-year contract or is an All-Star.

Walsh won't say he's confident he can sign Lee.

"It's up to them," Walsh said.

Portland was the last team under the cap interested in Lee and it's thrown its money at Millsap.

"Trades can change everything," Walsh said. "It can clear room and now somebody not figuring on putting an offer sheet can if they get the room."

But Walsh admitted his chances have increased since July 1.

"I sense the market is not dying to be throwing big numbers out," Walsh said.

*

The Knicks' summer league team plays its first game today vs. Memphis. The Knicks' Jordan Hill has shown flashes during three days of summer-league practice, while their other first-rounder, Toney Douglas, selected 29th, has been exceptional.

Walsh said he believes Douglas has a great chance of being their backup point guard this season.

Eddy Curry showed up a second day but only did drills, declining to scrimmage, and will not play today. Though he's lost 30 pounds, Curry is still a reported 328, which means he ballooned to 358 at season's end.

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Would be a nice replacement for Lee if he's let go. Plus, it won't hurt our 2010 cap plan and we could resign him in 2010 after we sign another all-star free agent.