Monday, January 6, 2014

Celtics bid adieu to Courtney Lee

celtics trade courtney lee for jerryd bayless

On Sunday, the tumultuous tenure of Courtney Lee with the Boston Celtics came to an end when the Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies agreed to swap Lee (7.4 PPG, .442 3P%) for former No. 11 pick Jerryd Bayless (8.1 PPG, 2.1 APG). 

It rarely happens, but this trade actually benefits both parties.

Lee, whom Danny Ainge heisted away from the Houston Rockets and signed to a modest 4-year, $21.5 million contract in July, 2012, never quite lived up to the team's expectations. Sure, he played tough defense and occasionally hit three-pointers, but he also went through well-documented stretches of ineffectiveness. 

With the Celtics no longer in championship mode after the shocking trade of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets, and the team's logjam at shooting guard, Lee's minutes took a big hit. Paradoxically, his production was never more efficient. It was only a matter of time until some team inquired about Lee, who will earn a reasonable $11.125 million over the next two seasons.

Enter the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Gasol-less Grizzlies, with stats guru John Hollinger as the VP of Basketball Operations, have A) a love for finding diamonds in the rough, B) a dire need for three-point shooting behind Mike Conley and Mike Miller, and C) a $7.5 million trade exception from the Rudy Gay trade. Fits like a glove.

Unfortunately, Danny wasn't able to pry away Ed Davis, but Arizona product Jerryd Bayless (and his $3.135 million expiring contract) is a nice asset to have. 

Not only does the former Vegas Summer League MVP balance out the roster somewhat (in my estimation, Bayless will back up Jordan Crawford, leaving Phil Pressey the odd man out, and MarShon Brooks will probably be recalled from Maine to back up Avery Bradley), the Celtics are now comforably under the luxury tax line at $69.12 million, and they own only $43.3 in guaranteed salary next year.

A textbook trade by Boston and Memphis.

Update: The Oklahoma City Thunder hopped on board at the last minute to create some wiggle room for themselves, sending Ryan Gomes to Boston for a second-round pick in 2016. The C's will likely waive Gomes before the remainder of his contract becomes guaranteed. 

Update 2: The C's second-round pick goes to Memphis, with Memphis sending two conditional second-rounders to OKC. Gomes was immediately waived.

Update 3: The Grizzlies also received $1.1 million from the Thunder.

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