Chris Forsberg threw up a nice little window into the Courtney Lee signing on ESPNBoston last night. As we might have guessed given the financial restrictions involved, Lee took less money to sign with Boston. Apparently he was swayed by conversations with Rajon Rondo and Doc Rivers in the week leading up to his decision.
Doc actually made a pitch after spotting Lee in Winter Park (where they both live) on the day Houston rescinded its contract offer to Lee.
“The day that Houston [withdrew its offer], I honestly was walking down the street in Winter Park, I saw [Lee] across the street, and I commandeered him,” Rivers said. “The next thing you know, we’re having dinner and — it took about a week — but he was a Celtic.”
You heard him: Doc Rivers actually crossed the street, risking a jaywalking ticket and even possibly his own life, to pitch Courtney Lee. That’s a coach. That is. A coach.
The article goes on to lay out how Lee wanted to play in Boston despite these obstacles:
-He was offered less money to play there.
-At least five other teams were pursuing him.
-There were three guards ahead of him for playing time.
-He thinks Quincy Market has gotten “pretty touristy.”
As I mentioned a couple months ago, the fact that a desirable player not only signed in Boston, but signed there despite obstacles represents a powerful shift in the free-agent landscape.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Celtics were whiffing on bids to the likes of Larry Hughes and Stromile Swift. Who’s Stromile Swift? Look outside: he’s the tall guy in the UPS uniform delivering you a package right now. Bringing talent to Boston on the open market was an ugly, gross business before KG showed up. But it is important to remember those times so we can appreciate how good we have it now.
The headline of the Forsberg piece is “Timing and Luck,” but I don’t really think either of those things had anything to do with this signing. The timing was actually bad: the Celtics had already spent their MLE on Terry before they were sure Lee was even available. They couldn’t outspend the five other teams who also wanted to offer Lee a starting job. The timing sucked, basically.
Luck is even less relevant: it’s not like Lee flipped a seven-sided coin to make his decision. Sure, it was lucky Doc happened to spot Lee on his daily stroll through town, but pinning the deal on that chance event doesn’t give Lee or Doc much credit: it’s not like Lee was going to sign with the first dude who asked him to, and it’s definitely not like Doc had to run into Lee on the street to make a pitch to him.
Lee signed in Boston because he wanted to play there the most. That’s it. The culture, the coach, and the roster were all more appealing to him than what other teams could offer, so much so that they actually MADE UP GROUND for other important areas in which Boston’s offer fell short.