This is actually a trade that I had predicted among many friends (although not on this blog so it doesn’t count, I hate myself). But Celtics fans need to calm down.
Paying $5 million for David Lee, which is basically what they did by swapping horrible expiring contracts, is totally find, and I liked the idea of it dating back to this season.
But there are a few problems with the idea that “Trader Danny did it again!!!!’, the first of which is pretty minor but the final two which are more important. First, they didn’t get an asset along with Lee, even a 2nd round pick or something like that, which you’d hope for considering how much this trade helps the Warriors financially. The Warriors couldn’t stretch Lee’s contract over the next 3 years because Lee’s contract was signed before the new CBA, which also shows how stupid that rule is, because why would you make a move that allows them to get out of a contract that was signed after and not before? If the amnesty rule is for contracts before, why is the stretch rule for after? But anyway, they can stretch Wallace and pay him $3.4M over the next 3 years each, and it won’t hurt as much next summer and the one after when the cap rises. So instead of paying Lee $15.4M, they’re paying Wallace $3.4 this season, and with the escalating luxury tax rules, the Warriors may save up to about $40 million this season because of this trade. When you save a team $40 million, you’d like to get some kind of future asset for that.
But whatever, a trade can be good without something.for the future. But here’s where C’s fans are really kidding themselves. David Lee isn’t that good anymore. He just isn’t. Not only can he not play defense, which takes away from the worth that his traditional statistical measurements would suggest, but he was a shell of himself last year, and the NBA has moved away from his game. Guys like him, who aren’t exactly athletic, play mainly in the post, and can’t play defense don’t rediscover their All-Star form at age 32. We gotta stop kidding ourselves.
And maybe more importantly, because this actually means something that could be a downright negative next year instead of just tempering expectations, he’s probably gonna take valuable minutes. When I wanted this trade to happen a few weeks or months ago, I thought that they would have moved on from at least one of their big guys. Instead, they’ve added Amir Johnson to Sullinger, Olynyk, Jerebko, and Zeller. If the Celtics want to cash in on these guys as assets, they need to be able to play them and show them off. Can’t do that wehn you’re playing David Lee a ton.
So I have no problem with the trade, mainly because I trust Brad Stevens to not be dumb enough to prioritize David Lee’s minutes over any of the young guys’ minutes, but let’s not pretend that this is another sneaky-really-really-good move, like getting Tyler Zeller and a 1st round pick for taking on Marcus Thornton’s contract or trading for Isaiah Thomas.