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Celtics May Have To Deal A Pick To Get Courtney Lee

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Heading up to Boston?
Heading up to Boston?

As has been reported for days, Doc Rivers had a meeting with Courtney Lee and the Celtics are pursuing him aggressively. They don't have the kind of cap space to offer him a free agent deal (Lee is unrestricted after the Rockets rescinded his qualifying offer) but they can acquire him in a sign and trade. Lee was at the Orlando Summer League yesterday and answered some questions about his status and Boston's interest. What caught my attention was his frank armchair GM comments.

Courtney Lee, Celtics have mutual interest - The Boston Globe

"You know Houston and [general manager] Daryl Morey, he loves draft picks, that’s one thing that you can do, a sign-and-trade," Lee said. "With having Houston loving draft picks and Boston not having money to be able to pay a player, that could be an option for both teams." Lee said more than eight teams are interested in him, including the Mavericks.

Lee probably has talked to his agent and perhaps even the Celtics directly about how they might get him to Boston. So chances are, the draft pick is the big driver here. Keep in mind, the Rockets, as of yesterday, were still rumored to be a team trying to swoop in and trade for Dwight Howard (even on a rental for 1 year) - which would require lots of draft picks. Even if they didn't trade for Howard, Lee is right, Morey seems to be stockpiling picks and young players for a future deal.

It is difficult to know what salaries would have to be used to match without knowing Lee's asking price, but the Celtics can cobble together a few players and send them out with one year deals to make the transaction work.

Update: WEEI tosses out some hypothetical numbers.

Any sign-and-trade deal would require a contract of three years with 4.5 percent raises built in. This is where it gets tricky, but if the Celtics stay under the luxury tax - not the $4 million apron, but the tax itself - they can accept 150 percent of the value they send out. In other words, if they can build a package worth around $2.7 million, they could start a three-year contract with Lee for $4 million. (Those numbers are hypothetical. No trade parameters are known yet.)

Wyc Grousbeck said in an interview yesterday that he expects a signing in a few days, so this might be it.