View Full Version : Lampe contract problems: Much ado about nothing

06-28-2003, 10:03 AM


BIG THREE:Knick draft choices Maciej Lampe, Mike Sweetney and and Slavko Vranes (left to right) pose outside the Garden yesterday.
- J. Alcorn

June 28, 2003 -- The Knicks believe Maciej Lampe's contract buyout clause with Real Madrid is much to do about nothing and plan to prove it in the next few days with a contract agreement.
The Knicks, Real Madrid and Lampe's agent spoke yesterday to try to hammer out the details to clear the 7-foot small forward to play for the Knicks next season. GM Scott Layden said he wants the 18-year-old with the club "as soon as possible," and Lampe added, "I would like to stay here."

Many believe Lampe's stunning drop out of the lottery and to the Knicks at 30 was due to non-lottery teams not doing their homework on the perimeter-shooting Pole. He played most of last season for Real Madrid's minor league team, but is being called the next Dirk Nowitzki.

The Knicks' European scout Kevin Wilson, who lives in Spain and saw him play 15 times over two seasons, has been told by Spanish doctors he's projected to grow to 7-2. He's a shade under 7-1 now. Layden said Wilson was "bouncing off the wall" as Lampe dropped.

Teams have used as an excuse an NBA e-mail alerting them to Lampe's contract problems. The biggest factor in Lampe's drop, the Knicks believe, is the agent not letting non-lottery teams work him out. Most teams scouted just a couple of his games.

"The Knicks got a break," one lottery-team executive said. "Sometimes teams aren't flexible enough to change their plan. It's a great excuse, the contract, instead of saying we didn't do our homework. Those contract things always get worked out."

Keith Kreiter, Lampe's agent, said, "Teams overanalyzed it and made a mistake. He's got as much upside as anyone after the top three."

When converted, the buyout figure is roughly $2 million. Since the Knicks are permitted under the CBA to pay just $350,000, Lampe would have to foot the rest.

Unless they dip into their $4.9M mid-level exception for free agents, the Knicks can only pay a second-round pick the NBA minimum $400,000. Even though Lampe makes substantially less in Spain, he still would come out losing money.

However, Kreiter said the $2M buyout figure is "very negotiable" and their aim is to reduce the figure by being "creative." The Knicks are willing to play an exhibition game in Madrid and conduct coaching clinics for Real Madrid's staff. As a model, Pau Gasol's buyout clause in Spain was $3M but reduced to less than $1M with agreements to play an exhibition game.

The NBA e-mail that allegedly scared off teams read, "We recently advised teams that we received a letter of clearance from FIBA. The letter of clearance is in error." The e-mail reported a buyout clause exists with Real Madrid.

Mike Sweetney, whom the Knicks took at No. 9 to fill their low-post void, doesn't have the upside of Lampe, but he's read y to fit into the rotation immediately. In fact, Don Chaney declared that if Antonio McDyess isn't ready by training camp, the starting power forward position is open.

Even if Sweetney is undersized at 6-8, he's still two inches taller than Othella Harrington and Clarence Weatherspoon.

"He's undersized a bit, but he's a true four," Chaney said. "This guy is a real post-up player."

06-28-2003, 12:25 PM
This can become one of the best drafts for the Knicks ever. A lot of size in the east, i like it for them.

06-28-2003, 08:49 PM
The player who we SHOULD have drafted. This will be this generation's Karl Malone.

06-28-2003, 09:41 PM
It does take a good coach to make a great player. I do not think this guy will excel under Don Chaney.

06-29-2003, 05:47 AM
I like J. Howard, but I think we really, really dropped the ball on Lampe.

Even if the guy that we were realistically planning to get, J.Howard, was already falling to us (thanks to Jerry West drafting two second rounders in the first round), I still would have expected Cuban and the Nelson's to have been able to make the gutsy call to draft the plummetting gift Lampe, rather than get frightened off by phantom e-mails and nebulous rumors about his contract problems...

06-29-2003, 07:31 AM
I think the Mavs goal is to win it all next year, as if the window of opportunity is now. I don't know how they felt going into last year, but I think they saw how close they were in the playoffs that they are now making moves accordingly. They are wanting contributors for next season. If that's the case, they see Howard as a contributor and Lampe as someone for down-the-road. If the Mavs could have moved up to Bosh, they would have amended that a little. Lampe may have cost them a wait, when they wanted someone NOW and Lampe would have been another inside defensive liability. They have enough of those already. I think they were afraid to waste a chance to get a contributor. In past years, they would have jumped all over Lampe and bragged about how smart they were to get him.

06-29-2003, 07:42 AM
I agree with you about the Mavs' prerogatives in drafting a guy who can help us now David, and I really think that J. Howard is hopefully going to be a guy who is capable of really contributing next year- and who still has an "upside" (kind of like Sprewell back with Golden State)- but again, it just grinds me the wrong way to see the Mavs join the rest of the herd in running away from Lampe because of rumors and e-mails drumming up a panic about the big man's percieved contract problems...

I think we got away with a good one in J. Howard this year, but I just hope that in five years time, we (and about 24 other teams) don't look like fools for passing on the big, sweet-shooting Pole...

06-29-2003, 09:17 AM

06-29-2003, 09:53 AM
Nellie may be writing a lot of checks right now for short-term payoffs, but absent some significant acquisitions, the team is going to end up with a big talent deficit in a couple of years

Exactly Kiki...

While we are preparing to enter another four horse race for the championship next year, we do need help NOW, not four years from now, but still, I feel like we lost a golden opportunity to at least make a gesture toward the still important future by drafting a less developed, but probably greater talent like Lampe (or Zaur, or Vranes, etc...).

In my opinion, no matter how nice J. Howard ends up being for us next year, that is not the move that is going to push us over the top to the championship. The emergence of Nick Van Exel; The continued development of Dirk into a fourth quarter monster; The probable health and greater rotation role of incredibly athletic Tariq; The hopefully improved production of Raef; And most, most importantly, the possible aquistion of a Karl Malone or other significant forward able to bring some muscle to bolster our frontcourt... These are the things that will win or lose the championship for us next year, and whether or not Howard plays big for us, his role will likely not be the thing that pushes us over the top...

He may very well help us next year, but I think we could have well afforded an investment in the future like Lampe...

All of these short-term checks will eventually have to be paid, and I'm afraid that the price might well be some talent bereft squads surrounding Dirk in the golden prime of his career...

06-29-2003, 09:54 AM
Huh? Why the edit Kiki? That was a darned good post...

06-29-2003, 11:48 AM
I think it's perfect for the knicks. Lampe is 18, they don't have to bring him over now, they have their rights. They can see if he pans out in Europe without paying a penny and get him over here when they want. And I'd say a 18-year-old who is not a star would develop better in college or in Europe than in the NBA.

06-29-2003, 09:12 PM
the knicks had a good draft, imo. that was definitely a steal. plus they got sweetney (not that great for the lottery) and vranes (pretty good for a mid-second rounder).