|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.
|Irish Coffee: Examining the 2012-13 Celtics depth chart||07.23.12 at 12:39 pm ET|
The NBA draft is over. Summer League is over. And for the Celtics, free agency is essentially over. So, with the addition of former Hawks center Jason Collins and the training camp invites to Summer League stars Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith over the weekend, the C’s could field a 15-man roster as currently constituted.
The depth chart is beginning to take shape. While Danny Ainge could still welcome Mickael Pietrus, Keyon Dooling or another player into the fold for the veteran minimum, the hard part is done. None of the four recently re-signed players or eight new additions could even be traded until December 15, and Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley don’t appear to be on the block, so any changes to this group would be a minor tweak at best.
That being said, let’s take a look at how this season’s depth chart stacks up to the one that finished the playoffs.
|E’Twaun Moore bullish on Chicago; JaJuan Johnson considering options||07.20.12 at 5:53 pm ET|
Less than 24 hours after the Celtics pulled the trigger on a trade with the Houston Rockets to obtain Courtney Lee, the two former Celtics are not intending on making Houston their long-term home.
A league source tells WEEI.com that after his expected release from Houston, E’Twaun Moore expects to wind up in Bulls camp and get a look with former Celtics defensive guru and current Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.
The source says the other player, big man JaJuan Johnson, has doubts about his future in Houston and is keeping his options open, should it not work out long term with the Rockets.
On Friday, the Celtics officially announced they traded Moore, Johnson, center Sean Williams and a second-round pick to Houston and forward Sasha Pavlovic to Portland in the deal. The Trail Blazers will also get a second round pick. What remains unspecified is what Portland will send to Houston or the Celtics to finalize the deal.
The source indicated the timeline of events are not certain and are very fluid. The trade is not expected to be affected as Johnson and Moore evaluate their options based on potential scenarios in Houston and Portland.
Per CBA rules, the Celtics cannot re-sign Moore if he becomes a free agent after being released.
Moore and Johnson were selected together by the Celtics out of Purdue in the 2011 NBA draft. Johnson was picked in the first round, 27th overall, by the Celtics while Moore was Boston’s second round choice (55th overall). Due to the lockout, Moore signed a deal with Italy’s Benetton Treviso that featured an opt-out clause that let him return to the Celtics once the lockout ended.
On Dec. 9, 2011 Moore signed a guaranteed contract with the Celtics. He debuted briefly (less than a minute) in the Celtics’ season-opener against the Knicks on Christmas Day.
In the March, with Keyon Dooling and Sasha Pavlovic nursing nagging injuries, Moore saw his playing time increase. He had a career-high 16 points on Jan. 26, against the Magic, going 4-4 from 3-point range. On April 24 and 26, in the final two games of the regular season, Moore established new career highs of seven rebounds and five assists against the Heat and Bucks, respectively.
Johnson had much less playing opportunity. In 36 games, he averaged just eight minutes and 3.2 points and 1.6 rebounds.
|Irish Coffee: Danny Ainge’s masterful Celtics summer||at 3:48 pm ET|
How do you think David West is feeling right about now? If you’ll recall, when he snubbed the Celtics for the Pacers in free agency last summer, he said, “In Boston, everybody is kinda realistic about the window that the Celtics have. Me looking at where I’m at, I think my window is a little bit wider.”
Since then, after watching the Celtics take the Heat to the brink in the Eastern Conference finals, West has seen his Pacers match Roy Hibbert‘s max contract (4 years, $58 million) — dedicating roughly $36 million annually to a “Big Three” of Hibbert, Danny Granger and George Hill — trade Darren Collison for Ian Mahinmi, and sign Gerald Green (3 years, $10 million) and D.J. Augustin (1 year, $3.5 million) as their biggest free agent splashes.
Meanwhile, Celtics president Danny Ainge painted his best masterpiece since acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2007 for Al Jefferson, the No. 5 overall NBA draft pick and a bunch of garbage. Not willing to call Ainge’s offseason a masterpiece? Take a look at what he had to work with this summer.
|Courtney Lee is just what Celtics need||at 1:41 am ET|
You won’t find Courtney Lee‘s name listed among the great guards in the NBA. He’s not going to make an All-Star team or an All-NBA team. He’s not the first, second or even third option in anyone’s offense. Instead, Lee is a connoisseur’s player. A pro’s pro, if you will.
What Lee does is make teams better. In seven of his eight most frequent lineups with the Rockets last season, Houston had a positive point differential. He’s a shooting guard who doesn’t need to score, but when he does shoot he is very effective, especially from 3-point range and particularly from the corner where he made 49 percent of his attempts last season, second only to Ray Allen. He is also an excellent cutter who rarely turns the ball over.
Lee is not the all-around offensive threat that Allen is — or was — but he is a much-better defender and even capable of sliding over the wing forward spot in certain lineup combinations. He’s also younger and healthier than Allen. With Avery Bradley’s status uncertain to start the season after undergoing two shoulder surgeries, Lee could slide right into the starting lineup and combine with Rajon Rondo and Jason Terry to form a strong three-man backcourt.
All around Orlando and Las Vegas where the Celtics were competing in summer league, scouts and executives all offered the same appraisal of the possibility of Lee joining the C’s: “perfect fit.”
The only question was whether the Celtics’ offer of E’Twaun Moore, Sean Williams and JaJuan Johnson, plus a second-round draft pick would be enough to make a sign-and-trade deal possible and there was some skepticism that it would. As talks went deep into the night on Thursday, it was still uncertain but seemed headed in the right direction.
Moore and Williams have non-guaranteed contracts, which makes them useful for cap math purposes. Johnson has just over $1 million guaranteed on the second-year of his rookie deal, but the Rockets have a surplus of big forwards and sources in Johnson’s camp expressed unease about adding his name to the list. The proposed deal needed a third team to help facilitate the moving parts and the Herald reported that Blazers stepped in with Sasha Pavlovic‘s name thrown into the mix.
If the Celtics can pull it off, it would be the equivalent of turning tap water into a fine Cabernet. If the current parameters hold, Danny Ainge would have traded four non-rotation players for a starting guard, which happened to be their biggest offseason need.
Williams has done little to impress in his short time in Boston and Johnson has clearly fallen behind rookie Jared Sullinger this summer. Moore has been one of the Celtics’ best summer league performers, but he is not nearly the same finished product as Lee and Pavlovic wasn’t likely to return to Boston in any event. (The trade would be a setback for Moore whose contract becomes guaranteed if he’s not waived by midnight on Sunday. If Moore is waived, the Celtics would not be able to re-sign him until after the one-year anniversary of the trade.)
The process is important because the Celtics are creeping ever closer to the magical hard cap line of $74.3 million and by acquiring Lee, they will be left with few options to complete the rest of the roster. Second-round pick Kris Joseph, as well as summer league stalwarts Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith could be the lucky beneficiaries of the Celtics’ tight cap situation, but if they add another big man it would have to be for the veteran minimum.
None of that should detract from the fact that the Celtics are on the verge of solving their biggest offseason puzzle and for a capped out team with few assets, acquiring Lee is the equivalent of a corner 3-pointer with the shot clock near zero, which just happens to be his specialty.
|Celtics’ pursuit of Courtney Lee gets tougher||07.18.12 at 5:08 am ET|
LAS VEGAS — It’s not like the Celtics don’t want to wrap up their roster renovation, it’s just that free agent guard Courtney Lee wisely listened to the advice of his agent, Dan Fegan, who told him to be patient.
Once the Celtics lost Ray Allen to Miami, they set their sights on acquiring the versatile Lee to shore up their backcourt. They made no secret of their intentions, as coach Doc Rivers visited with Lee in Orlando the morning after Allen signed with the Heat.
There was a good reason for their speed. The Celtics knew that the longer this played out, the more competition they would have for Lee. Sure enough, more than a week has gone by since Rivers’ impromptu sitdown and Lee is still available and very much in demand.
Lee may have to be a little more patient, but it seems that Fegan’s message will pay off. Someone will have the cap room to make a straight pitch for Lee and with O.J. Mayo off the board, he’s suddenly the best backcourt wing player left in free agency.
In addition to the Celtics, the Suns, Timberwolves and Bulls reportedly have expressed an interest, and there could be others as well.
The Suns have cap room. The Wolves could have room depending on whether the Blazers match their offer for restricted free agent Nic Batum. The Bulls are sitting on a $5 million trade exception and also staring at a loaded offer sheet from the Rockets for their own restricted free agent in Omer Asik that provides its own set of complications. The Asik offer sheet is not expected to be signed until the end of the week and then Chicago would have three days to match.
The Celtics, however, will not have cap room, or a rich extension to offer. Read the rest of this entry »
|More than eight teams in mix for Courtney Lee||07.09.12 at 7:41 pm ET|
ORLANDO — Free agent guard Courtney Lee was talking with Pistons’ coach Lawrence Frank during the Orlando Summer League when the one-time Celtics’ assistant asked how many teams were after him since the Rockets rescinded their qualifying offer and made him an unrestricted free agent. Lee started down the list of suitors, but there were so many he lost track.
“My brain froze so I couldn’t tell him all the teams,” Lee said. “There’s more than eight teams. Once they pulled my qualifying offer and made me unrestricted the phone kept ringing.”
One of those teams is the Celtics. Lee met with Doc Rivers over the weekend and the two expressed mutual interest in Lee coming to Boston.
“There was no verbal agreement or anything, we’re just hearing each other out,” Lee said. “They expressed their interest. I expressed my interest. It’s not basketball wise, there needs to be discussions with the front offices and my agent. They need to communicate and go from there.”
Asked how he would characterize the nature of discussions with the Celtics, Lee said, “I wouldn’t know how to characterize it. I have a great relationship with Doc from the first time I stepped on an NBA court. I would say our meeting went well. As far as characterizing where I’m at with the team; coach and player-wise we’re on the same page.”
Lee’s agent is Dan Fegan, who is well aware that it’s a buyer’s market for shooting guards. His message: Stay patient. Lee understands the situation he’s in and he knows that if he is to work out a deal with the Celtics it would require some maneuvering. The Celtics are over the cap, so any deal with Lee would have to be worked out in a sign-and-trade arrangement with the Rockets.
“There’s other ways,” he said. “You know Houston and [GM] Darryl Morey, he loves draft picks and that’s one thing you can do with a sign-and-trade.” Read the rest of this entry »
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