Courtney Lee: Joining Celtics ‘a no-brainer for me’
|08.09.12 at 9:34 pm ET|
Here’s all you need to know about Celtics sign-and-trade acquisition Courtney Lee before this NBA season begins: He took less money to play in Boston, and he doesn’t care whether he starts or comes off the bench.
“I had a lot of different offers from a lot of different teams, but the one I really wanted to come to was Boston,” Lee said Thursday from the Boston Children’s Museum, where the Celtics held their Summer Soiree to benefit the Shamrock Foundation. “So, I spoke to my agent and I spoke to my family. It was a decision that I had to take less money to come here, but in that I’ll be winning, I’ll have a chance to play on TV. That’s what everybody wants to do. They want to win big and a chance to win a ring, so it was a no-brainer for me.”
In town for his first public appearance as a member of the Celtics and to find a place to live for at least part of his four-year, $21.5 million contract, Lee joins a shooting guard logjam along with Avery Bradley and Jason Terry after being signed-and-traded from the Rockets in a complicated deal that involved the Celtics shipping JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore, Sean Williams, Sasha Pavlovic and three second-round draft picks out of Boston.
Still, when asked if he preferred starting to backing up Bradley upon his return from surgery on both shoulders, Lee said all the right things while not giving up too much outside of the fact he and Celtics coach Doc Rivers have already discussed his role “in details” over dinner multiple times.
“I just want to win,” said Lee. “I’m not the coach, so whatever Doc feels will help the team it’s his decision, so I’m just going to go out there and just play. [Coming off the bench] is the same as starting a game. You’ve got a job and a role to go out there and fulfill, and you’ve just got to be a professional and handle that.”
Lee averaged 11.4 points (43.3 FG%, 40.1 FT%, 82.6 FT%), 2.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.2 steals in 30.3 minutes a night over 58 games for Houston last season, but he hasn’t played in the postseason since his rookie year, when he played for the Magic during their 2009 run to the NBA Finals.
“I’m excited to be back on a playoff caliber team,” said Lee. “Doc’s a great coach. I get to play under him. There’s a good core group of guys here, and I get to join them.”
What can the Celtics expect from Lee? “Just a guy who’s going to go out there and play hard every possession,” he said. “There’s no possessions off. I’m capable of scoring on the offensive end, but I’m going to give the same effort on the defensive end night in and night out.”
Joking that he’ll be able “to give the old guys a rest,” Lee, 26, also brings young legs in place of the departed Ray Allen to a team that’s been trying to shed its “aging” label for years.
“When you’ve got those kinds of caliber players like KG [Kevin Garnett] down low, [Paul] Pierce on the wing and [Rajon] Rondo who’s going to find you in transition, you can only be excited about that,” he said. “With those guys, I’m sure they’re going to have the focus of the defense night in and night out. It’s only going to make my job a lot easier: get out there and run, try to get buckets in transition, knock down open shots and also play defense.”
Lee isn’t the only new player who Rivers will have to integrate into the Celtics this season, as only six players remain from the team that he fielded during their run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. But count Lee among those impressed with the rest of the moves Danny Ainge pulled off this summer.
“I think he did a good job,” said Lee. “I think he was one of the better GMs during the offseason of getting a team and putting them together to go back and try to compete for a championship. You’ve got Jason Terry — who’s a phenomenal shooter and a scorer that’s capable of coming off the bench and giving you 20 — and then you get [Chris] Wilcox back, who’s an inside presence, and you get Jeff Green back also, so I think he did a great job.”
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