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in his free agency),” said Lee, who originally received an offer sheet from the Houston Rockets, only to have it rescinded when they elected to pursue other free agents.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.