I reserve the right to kill this post and bury it at sea if the deal doesn’t work out. But until then, here are a few reasons why this Lee signing deserves every overreaction it’s getting.
-As Robb pointed out earlier, the Lee signing makes the 2012-2013 Celtics the deepest team of the Garnett era (“the Garnett era” is what we’re calling it now, by the way). They’re carrying a bench of Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, and Chris Wilcox. That group absolutely competes for the best second line in basketball and could even outplay a few teams’ starters. Maybe just Charlotte. But definitely Charlotte.
Anyway, as we learned last season, bench depth is vital in the event of freak injuries, which are exponentially more likely when your starting forwards are combined older than Susan Sarandon. So it’s great that Boston’s currently rolling out a rotation that might actually be too big for the playoffs, especially if they really go overboard and resign Pietrus.
-The really big news of this signing, combined with Terry’s, is that Boston is actually a desirable free-agent destination now. Not necessarily for superstars, but for valuable rotation players, and that’s also important. Courtney Lee was being pursued by about six other teams, all reasonably competitive, who would have paid him pretty much the same money probably given him a chance to start. He really, really wanted to go to Boston, where he’ll potentially be splitting minutes as a fourth guard when Avery Bradley comes back.
This is huge. The biggest new free-agent signing of the last FIFTEEN YEARS before these two was probably Rasheed Wallace or Jermaine O’Neal, because before KG arrived nobody really wanted to play in Boston: the winters are horrible and the city had a (largely deserved) reputation for being racist. So professional basketball was handicapped in the city for years, but now that the Celtics actually have the cap space to make signings, we can see that things have apparently changed.
-JaJuan Johnson had no future in Boston. Maybe the most revealing aspect of Summer League for me was watching JaJuan share the floor with four scrub players…and give up shots to them exactly like he would if he were starting alongside Pierce, Rondo and KG. I like the guy a lot and hope he does well in Houston…but he’s not that young and hasn’t visibly developed at all since he was drafted, except for maybe improving his rebounding. As for E’Twaun Moore, he’s definitely making the most of his draft position, but Courtney Lee is well beyond his ceiling. Nice that those two get to keep the band together, anyway.
-Lee is a Boston headline writers’ nocturnal emission. Lee comes up with a game-winning putback? UNBE-LEE-VABLE. Lee and Terry combine for ten straight threes? LEE-VING ON A JET PLANE. Lee twists his ankle and is questionable for Game 4 of the Conference Finals? DEFINITE-LEE MAYBE. One syllable last names are money in the bank for these headline guys. That’s 40% of the reason Jeremy Lin became a star.
-Dionte Christmas is more likely to make the roster. Now that E’Twaun’s out of his way, the Summer League MVP has a much clearer path to the bench. Garbage time would be limitedly more interesting with him around. You’ll be hearing more about Christmas in the coming days as Brian Robb gives him the blog post equivalent of a deep-tissue foot massage.
I don’t want to pull a psychic-type Pokemon on this deal, but: welcome to Boston, Courtney! Hope you enjoy being loved!