When the Celtics acquired Jerryd Bayless in the Courtney Lee trade in early January, Head Coach Brad Stevens said the Celtics lost a good player in Lee, but that they added versatility and scoring punch with the addition of Bayless. However, the real motivation for the deal was to exchange the long-term contract of Lee for Bayless' expiring contract.
Bayless, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer, was paid $3.135M. Lee, who became, the 5th highest paid Memphis player, is owed $5.45M in 2014-15 and a similar amount in 2015-16. The trade gave the Celtics a lot of salary flexibility, while not losing a lot in production out of the No. 2 spot.
Bayless is also more of a two-way player than Lee was, being able to play behind both Rondo and Bradley at each guard spot, and the C's particularly needed depth at point guard with Phil Pressey the only other bench player capable of handling the rock.
Bayless, who is 6' 3" and 200 lbs., will be 26 years old when the 2014-15 season starts. The Celtics were his 5th team in 6 years in the NBA. He was the University of Arizona's first one-and-done player, and was a lottery pick (11th) in 2008 by Portland. While Bayless certainly entered the NBA with decent expectations, given that he's worn 5 different jerseys in the NBA already, some Wildcat faithful think that he's just another testament of a college player that should have played in college longer than one year. . . . but that's a topic for another discussion . . . .
The injury bug seemed to have followed Bayless his first 4 years in the NBA, where he was out 30% of the time, but he may have put that behind him. He's been more robust the last two seasons playing 80 games in the 2012-2013, and 72 games this past year for Memphis and Boston.
Bayless has never been a full-time starter, but he has proven to be a very good bench player. Similar to the departed Jordan Crawford and Courtney Lee, Bayless can provide some much needed offense in the 2nd unit. For example, in his last 15 games with the C's, Bayless was on a tear from 3-point range hitting 32 of 65 shots for a 49% percentage.
Those numbers, his ability to play some decent PG (better than Avery Bradley at least), and the fact that he still can be considered to have some upside given his age are all going to get him some attention from other NBA teams this summer. As the C's can attest, the back-up PG position is not necessarily easy to fill. So Ainge must figure out if Bayless is going to be a piece to their rotation moving forward, and it will most certainly come down to affordability.
Overall, he seems to be in a happy place in Boston as a back-up guard, and I'm all for resigning him if the price is right. How about you?