I don’t blame the Celtics for taking a flier on David Lee. Well, actually, I sorta do. I actually offered the Gerald Wallace for David Lee trade proposal to friends months before it happened (and I didn’t put the prediction online because I’m an idiot and it’s not like I have a blog or anything), but I assumed a few things with that trade. First, the Celtics would most likely get a 2nd round pick or some small asset out of the deal for their troubles of adding about $5.5 million in salary. Secondly and most importantly, I thought that the Celtics wouldn’t have 4 capable big men already on the roster.
If Lee was the 4th big guy on the roster, then this season would have played out very differently for him and the Celtics. Lee wouldn’t have eaten Tyler Zeller’s minutes, and when Brad Stevens (finally) realized about a week ago that Lee should not be featured significantly in the rotation, he would still be playing some small minutes as the 4th big. Now, though, Lee is out of the rotation as the 5th big, and he’s not happy about it. Don’t get me wrong, Lee is being a professional during the situation, but he’s obviously not too thrilled, and understandably so. He has the ability to play NBA basketball and he wants to do so, but Boston is not the right fit. Lee either should play 25 minutes a game for a bad team and be one of their veteran leaders, a la what the Timberwolves have done with KG, Andre Miller, and Tayshaun Prince, or he should play 7 minutes a night in the playoffs for a contender who is scarce on the frontline.
Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, Amir Johnson, and Tyler Zeller all need more playing time. With Sully and Zeller, the C’s need to see what they have in both guys as they hit restricted free agency. The Celtics brought in Amir Johnson to fill a specific and necessary role, and he does just that against certain matchups. Olynyk looks to be the most promising big man of the bunch with his improved defensive chops this year, and nobody should be in the way of his progression. In short, you have a disgruntled veteran who will only warm the bench or take valuable playing time away from developing guys? Time for him to go.
I’m thankful for what David Lee has done for the Celtics, as I’m sure he’s helped with the professionalism in the locker room. Tons of guys on te Celtics want more playing time than they’re getting, meaning they’re in the same position that Lee was in last season. He absolutely brought value by showing those guys the right way to act, and he’s been hepful running a bunch of pick and rolls. But he hasn’t and won’t return to 2014 form, and there’s no reason for the Celtics to hold onto a soon-to-be 33 year old who’s out of the rotation. Thanks for everything, David Lee, but you can go fulfill your desire to play small minutes on a team with a need at power forward, get a ton of floor time with a horrible team, or become a 12th man/assistant coach for the Warriors.