Just ask Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge if he anticipates any moves coming before opening night and he'll tell you that there could be. Ainge said, "We have some work to do. We have a few too many guaranteed contracts . . . We have to make some adjustments, and we're very busy trying to put the best team on the court. But there could be some changes this summer, yes."
For the next couple of weeks I am going to ask one simple question about each player that could be on the block: Should the Boston Celtics keep or trade him before the start of the regular season?
In the fourth part of the "Keep Him or Trade Him" series, we are going to take a look at Courtney Lee. He's a 27-year-old shooting guard that acquired during the 2012 offseason in a complicated three-team sign-and-trade deal involving Houston and Portland. Last season Lee averaged 7.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.1 steals in 24.9 minutes per game. Lee is entering the second year of a four-year contract, which will top out at $5,675,000 in 2015-2016.
Why Keep Lee?
Even though Lee is primarily a two-guard, he is adequate as a ball handler and could play the backup point if needed. Considering his unselfishness, Lee doesn't expect to be the focal point of the offense performs when called upon. Courtney is one of the better three-point shooters from the corner-three. Put aside the first month of the season, when Lee shot only 18.2 percent from beyond the arc, he ended up shooting 39.8 percent the rest of the year. Even though Lee wasn't as productive as he was in 2012, he really found his stroke towards the end of the season and should continue that into next year.
Why Trade Lee?
I think Courtney Lee has played for four teams in five years not because he is a liability but because he is a valued commodity to have on a team. For all the reasons listed above, Lee would be valuable for a contending team to acquire. He can defend, score when needed, and isn't weak in any single category. He's an unselfish player and is quite a good guy to have in the locker room as well. Lee also has a very fair salary that expires before he turns 31-years old.
The fact Lee has more trading value that some of the other guards on Boston's roster, it might make sense to deal him and go with young players like Jordan Crawford or MarShon Brooks instead. It's unlikely that C's would be able to acquire a first round draft pick -- even years from now -- but as a part of a packaged deal (with either a pick or another player), something valuable could be acquired in return.
What Would I Do?
I would keep Courtney Lee. I think the Celtics can compete this year and I have always liked him as a role player. Lee brings value as a potential lockdown defender and as a complimentary player on offense. Even though he doesn't excel anywhere on offense, he isn't a liability to have on the floor like many defenders are. Those guys are hard to come by and I don't believe the Celtics could get value for him now. If Lee is traded, the C's would be better served waiting until the trade deadline or the draft, so they could package him with a draft pick to potentially move up. Even then, I think Lee has value on this team once the Celtics become winners in the coming years.
What would you do? Vote on the poll, comment below, and tweet me @Kevin__OConnor with your thoughts.
Keep Him or Trade Him Poll Results: