You just knew that it would only be a matter of time before Danny Ainge started getting creative. With Ray off to South Beach and little flexibility left to pursue other team's free agents, it didn't seem like the Celtics had many options left. That won't stop Danny though.
The Celtics don't have the salary-cap space to sign Lee outright, but sources say the Rockets have let it be known that they're willing to participate in sign-and-trade deals with both Marcus Camby and Lee amid the increasing likelihood that neither of those coveted free agents will be returning to Houston.
Lee is a restricted free agent and has a qualifying offer for $3.2M from the Rockets.
Update/correction: Lee's QO was rescinded by the Rockets.
The difficult with Lee is that he was in line for a solid payday. After earning $2.3 million last season, incentives allowed Lee's qualifying offer from the Rockets to balloon to $4.4 million. Houston initially submitted that offer, then rescinded it in order to pursue other players.
But wait, there's more. There have been a couple of reports that say that the Celtics are still after O.J. Mayo - though nobody can actually figure out how to make that happen since he's looking for more than the MLE.
"The Celtics still have interest in OJ Mayo, and right now they are not the position to give OJ the kind of money he's looking for," Blakely said. "But certainly with sign-and-trade possibilities then all of a sudden OJ becomes a player the Celtics might make a run at."
If you are curious about this blogger's thoughts on what is more reasonable - well, first of all don't trust me - but I would say that Lee sounds a lot more realistic than Mayo. Let's look at what Boston has to offer up in a sign-and-trade.
Technically Brandon Bass hasn't signed with the Celtics yet, they've just reached an agreement to bring him back. Perhaps they could use Bass in a double sign-and-trade. Especially if they got Houston to give Bass more money than he agreed to already. Doesn't seem all that likely though since the impression that I got was that Bass agreed to a reasonable deal in part because he loved playing in Boston so much.
Beyond that, I think you'd have to start cobbling together some combination of guys like Michael Pietrus, Keyon Dooling, last year's rookies, and this year's rookies to make something work out with the numbers.
Also, (now swallow hard and remember that this is just speculation) perhaps the best mid-level trading chip we have is Avery Bradley. Yes, I don't want to lose him either, I'm just pointing out the options. Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic can't be signed-and-traded because they weren't in the league last year.
If there's other ways to get either of these two to Boston, I can't think of them. But Ainge probably has. You may or may not agree with the idea of targeting Mayo and Lee and other guys that Ainge has gone after, but you can't question his creativity.
Update: Confirmation on the Lee meeting.
Source confirms Boston coach Doc Rivers met with free agent shooting guard Courtney Lee on Saturday and that Houston - his former team - is interested in a possible sign-and-trade to send Lee to the Cs. The meeting was in Orlando, where Lee trains and where Rivers lives in the offseason, so it was a convenient connection.