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Courtney Lee Acknowledges Interest in Playing For Celtics

Free agent guard Courtney Lee spends some of his summer in Orlando, and he held court today with a numbers of reporters in Orlando, including our friend Chris Forsberg from ESPNBoston. For those of you joining the Lee to Boston bandwagon, the news was good as far as Lee’s interest goes, but it sounds like we might have to wait awhile if a move is going to be made. Here’s more from Lee via Forsberg:

 “I wouldn’t know how to characterize (Boston’s position in his free agency),” said Lee, who originally received an offer sheet from the Houston Rockets, only to have it rescinded when they elected to pursue other free agents. “I have a great relationship with Doc, from the first time I stepped on an NBA court. I would say our meeting (on Saturday) went well. As far as characterizing where I’m at with the team — coach and player-wise, we’re on the same page — it’s just my agent and their front office guys have to talk and work something out.” 

“(The Celtics) expressed their interest, I expressed my interest — it’s up to the front offices and my agent,” said Lee, who stressed that being a part of a contender ranks high on the wish list for his next team. “They need to communicate and go from there.”

Gary Washburn from The Boston Globe also had a couple noteworthy quotes from Lee:

When asked of his most important priority, Lee said: “I want to win. I got a taste of the playoffs and going all the way to the Finals my rookie year (with Orlando in 2009). I want to get back there. Boston, everybody knows their record and what they’ve accomplished over the years especially with Doc and having KG (Kevin Garnett) and Paul (Pierce), (Rajon) Rondo’s still there. So that’s a team I feel will win and continue to win. That’s one factor in the decision.”

Lee is even on the scent from just how the C’s will be able to acquire himself from Houston:

“You know Houston and (general manager) Daryl Morey, he loves draft picks, that’s one thing that you can do, a sign-and-trade,” Lee said. “With having Houston loving draft picks and Boston not having money to be able to pay a player, that could be an option for both teams.”

I’ll have a full column exploring the harsh reality of any potential sign-and-trade situation for Lee, but here’s where the Celtics are at for the moment.

1) Lee will not sign for the bi-annual exception. That will cut his salary in half next season. Players entering their prime do not take 50 percent paycuts. Doc Rivers is a master salesman, but unless he has embarrassing pictures of Lee lying around somewhere, this won’t happen.

2) The Celtics can do a sign-and-trade for him, but are very limited in terms of what they can offer from their active roster. All of Boston’s recently signed draft picks can’t be traded for 30 days. Pierce, Rondo, Bradley, Garnett, Green, and Bass aren’t going anywhere. Nenad Krstic can’t be dealt in a sign-and-trade. Keyon Dooling is probably not interested in going to Houston to facilitate a sign-and-trade, (Rockets aren’t interested either probably). That leaves E’Twaun Moore and Sean Williams on unguaranteed deals as well as JaJuan Johnson as trade bait.

That combo of players, as you can imagine is not that appealing. Boston would most likely have to throw in a first round pick to sweeten the pot for Houston, and we all know how much Ainge loves those picks, so that may be hard for him to part with.

Additionally, those 3 players in a deal would under trade rules only allow Boston to take back Lee in a deal that starts paying him at $4 million dollars (150 percent of those player’s salaries per the CBA) per season. Lee probably can get a lot more than that on the open market as a starting salary, at least a million more, so he probably won’t settle for that in the interim until the market plays itself out.

So is a sign-and-trade a possibility? Absolutely. Should Celtics fans feel good about the possibility? Not at the moment.

  • Batman

    The Rockets love PFs
    Give em JJJ/Moore and couple seconds

  • GreenM&M

    I forgot he was rookie in '09 when they went to the finals. He's still pretty young and could improve in the Cs system. Danny work your magic!

  • ElRoz

    Why not give them 2013 draft pick? Danny might not want to part with that, but come on – Lee is a proven player, fast, can shoot, and is young – you can sign him for 3-4 years. Moore, JJ, and 2013 draft pick.

    However, perhaps Danny sees something in JJ – perhaps JJ will have a big upgrade from last year, similar to Bradley. In that case they ought to sign Dooling fast – he plays D, can hit the 3-pointer, and if starting along Rondo (with Terry off the bench), can help take pressure off Rondo defensively.

  • Ben

    If only we hadn't signed Jeff Green for so much money. Starting to hate the Green signing more and more by the day. Thanks to him we won't even be able to fill out the remaining roster spots with anything more than D-League quality players.

    • High Rollers

      I think Jeff is a Bird Rights guy.

      • Phil

        That just means they could go over the cap to sign him. He'll still be eating up the C's potential cap space for the next four years (still praying not all four are guaranteed…)

        • High Rollers

          But wouldn't it have been the same as with The Artist Formerly Known As Boston Celtic Ray Allen? As in, if Jeff chose another destination, then it's not like the C's would have his '12-'13 salary of nine mil to throw at another player? I think if that's the case, it was a gamble worth taking. I think either A) he plays well and fits well with this upcoming incarnation the C's or B) he still plays pretty well or at least decent but doesn't fit so becomes Ray Allenesque trade bait somewhere down the line. It's almost shocking when there isn't somebody willing to trade for and thus pay a 6-8 athletic wing what he's about to get from Danny & Co. At any rate, I hope he has a great year with us and proves everybody wrong. Same with Sully, who did look pretty good (if a bit winded) in the nba.com Summer League highlights. Even Bill Simmons is excited on Twitter without a hint of sarcasm. That too is almost shocking.

          • Phil

            You're right that signing Green doesn't change much this offseason. My complaint isn't so much the cap hit this year as it is the cap hit in years three and four. It seemed unlikely that the Celtics would ever be under the cap in the KG era, and they definitely won't now. That means they get one shot at a real free agent every year (MLE,) and they chose Terry this year.

            As far as Green vs Allen, I think the answer would be pretty close to unanimous as far as who everyone would take between Green at 9m a year and Ray Allen at 6. Hell, I'd take Ray at 9. There seems to be a collection of people out there who don't realize that Green just sucks. He scores 12-15 inefficient ppg and doesn't rebound, pass or defend well. Ray's limited at his age, but at least he can score efficiently off of spot ups. Green's not even a consistent three point threat. There's just no evidence that he's going to suddenly blossom into a 9m dollar player in his late twenties. Ainge seems to be in love with the guy for some reason, and its running a serious threat of hurting the Celtics years down the road.

            Ray at 6m for 2 years would have given the Celtics a very good scorer at a modest rate, and he would be off the books completely in two years. It would've limited what they could've done the next two years, but after that, complete flexibility. Green's deal ties up the cap for two more years after that, when they're going to want to start rebuilding. Hell, just give Green 20m over two years, no one would come close to matching, and at least then we'd be rid of him after that. I hate this contract so much >_>

            I do hope he has a great year, I'd love to be wrong, players don't generally make year six or seven leaps though. And for the record, Green won't be worth anything in a trade with his contract if he plays at the same level he has played at. The Celtics would have to offload assets to get rid of his contract a la Okafor or Gordon this offseason.

          • lakershater13

            In 2 years KG(3rd year likely an option year) and Pierce come off the books. The only major contracts I see Ainge having on the books would be Rondo and Green. Leaving around 40 mil to go get someone. With 14 mil a year being a max deal now that leaves all kinds of room. I would assume Terry, KG, and Bass all have a option 3rd year. If not then in 3 years we would have cap space. Either way I dont see Green hindering cap space.

          • High Rollers

            You're right that there's no comparing future HOFer Ray to young and struggling Jeff. Apples and oranges really. I was only referring to the man that just got Wyc hyped up to some cosmic level to beat the Heat (a.k.a. Ray) because he was in that same Bird Rights category (as you acknowledged), where if you don't secure your own FA then the cap really handcuffs your immediate future. And even though KG signed on for three more years, the time is still now.

    • lakershater13

      C's would only be 6.3 mil under the cap after bringing back KG and Bass with out Green or Terry. Im not sure who would be more valuable than Green for 6 mil or less. Next summer Howard or Josh Smith would make a LOT more than 6.3 mil a year. Ainge didnt leave cap space. Instead he got a lot of moveable contracts. Rondo at 11, Green at 9, Bass at 6, and Terry at 5. All talented players with cheaper deals.
      Boozer makes 15 mil a year, Villanueva makes 8.2, Granger 13, Thaddeus Young 8, Wallace 10, Richard Jefferson 10, Turkoglu 12, and Stephen Jackson 10 mil. So I think we could do worse than Green at 9 mil.
      Keep in mind the guy has already played 4 years in the league and is only 26 to start the season. Just about to hit his prime. Nobody is complaining about 6.7 mil a year for Bass. The guy was in the league for 7 years before finally having a breakout year with Boston averaging 12 and 6. Green averaged 16 and 6 in a year and his contract is worth hating?
      So tell me what the Cs should do instead of signing Green and Terry. Who would you spend the 6 mil a year on that would make the team so much better?

      • GreenM&M

        Good points Laker hater. I don't think 6 million would be enough to even sign Lee, and getting a 2nd SF is a priority.

        I don't have a ton of confidence in Green, but we are kind of stuck with him. I still don't like the contract at 4 years, though. Not sure if any other team would have given him 4 years at 36. But you never know with all those crazy GMs out there.

    • CG12

      The Green signing is very telling about the general direction of the league, in my opinion. Teams are focusing far more on multi-skilled athletes rather than traditional position types. The Heat are the poster child for this new approach. I think that the C's are going to be playing a ton of small and even-smaller ball in the next couple of years. When KG goes to the bench, you may say Sullinger or Bass playing "center" and Green playing "PF." I know everyone hates Green at the PF spot, but I suspect it would work differently, and better, if he was a small-ball PF playing a brand of fast, active basketball. I'd love to see that from the C's. They have been getting slower and slower over the last couple of years, and the changes this off-season are the real beginning of the post-KG/PP era. The opportunities for Rondo to do Rondo things would be hugely enhanced with a faster, more active team. Doc is always shouting at the team to run – maybe this year they will actually do it a bit. I'm sure Rondo will appreciate not feeling like he needs to wait 15 seconds for Ray to run off 87 picks.

  • James Patrick

    Green should've been a 7 million/ 21m 3 year deal. He's unproven in a green uniform.

    At least Lee seems like he wants to come to Boston. That's the important thing. And it'll get worked out since he wants to come here, I have a feeling.

  • Zee

    Things are shaping up nicely.

  • zach

    Lee is definitely worth a 2013 1st round pick. It will be in the high teens/20s and how many of those eventually develop to be rotation players – no brainer if Houston is willing

  • Lantrell Walker

    I was hoping we could get both Lee and Camby in sign-and-trades, but I think that ship has sailed. I'm still thrilled about the idea of Lee in green though, he's young, defends and can create his own shot, not to mention he's athletic. Lee would make the perfect backcourt partner for Rondo and he'd flourish beside him in Doc's system. I say give Houston JJJ and maybe even Moore + 2-3 future picks, surely that should be enough for a UFA that the Rockets will most likely lose anyway. With Lee in Boston and the C's fully healthy, the depth chart fills out really nicely:

    PG: Rondo/Terry
    SG: Bradley/Lee
    SF: Pierce/Green/(Pietrus?)
    PF: Bass/Sullinger
    C: Garnett/Melo

    We just need another 7-footer who can hit the glass HARD. All in all, I'm foaming at the mouth at the prospect of a Rondo-Lee backcourt, here's hoping Danny can swing it.


  • howardavellino

    Apparently the Magic want a first-round draft pick rather than Marshon Brooks, so the Nets are trying to get a fourth team involved who will make that trade. They're trying to get the Clippers. How about if the Celtics offer to make that trade?

  • Kafel

    If only Rockets would take Moore, JJJ and first-round pick in 2013 for Lee.. Damn I would very like that roster (add some big man and I would love it).

  • Steve

    Celtics Hub this is what I am going to miss

  • CG12

    It would be great to get Lee, but sure seems like it is going to be difficult to pull off. The C's just don't have the pieces. JJJ and Moore are essentially worthless, from my perspective. You can find an E'Twuan Moore on any street corner, and there are no indications Johnson is close to figuring how to be an NBA player.

  • Anthony

    Any comments on the possibility of bringing Perk back if he gets amnestied?

    As to all the JGreen comments, I still say give the guy a chance first. A ton of teams would've taken the chance to sign him if he were at $7-8 mil per.