Get ready, Celtics fans – Courtney Lee is about to become a Boston Celtic! Okay, that’s the good news. Now the not so good – Danny Ainge has packaged JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore, Sean Williams and a second round pick to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Lee. The deal isn’t final, and there may end up being a third team involved, but there remains a very high probability that this transaction will happen and happen soon.
So, what to make of this potential shakeup? Lee is one of several shooting guards that the Celtics targeted in the wake of the Ray Allen defection and the lingering shoulder woes experienced by Avery Bradley. O.J. Mayo was thought to be high on the list but wasn’t a realistic candidate to play in Boston, regardless of how creative Ainge attempted to be. Lee is a different story altogether. The Rockets have been in roster overhaul mode in an attempt to acquire Dwight Howard from Orlando, and Lee was not seen as a fit for the team this coming season. The Celtics want to add a young, front-line shooting guard to the equation, allowing Jason Terry to focus on his role as dynamite off the bench.
Lee would fit that bill nicely. He gives the Celtics a player who can knock it down from outside, and he should flourish alongside Rajon Rondo. He shot 40% from behind the arc last season, which is right at Allen’s career average. He can play small forward as well, which should give Doc Rivers a deeper bench and plenty of match-up options.
And now for the dope on the other side of the coin. Gone in this proposed sign-and-trade would be Johnson, Moore and Williams, and a second round draft pick. Williams was a long shot at best to make the team, and would likely be thrown in as salary cap fodder. Moore, for all of his upside, is a young player that does a lot well but nothing great. He can play point, but isn’t a PG in the truest sense of the word. He can play the two but won’t be mistaken for Avery Bradley, much less the departed Allen. Johnson is long on potential but is still reed thin and still not strong enough to hang with the big boys at his position. He remains more comfortable facing up from the perimeter, and the Celtics now have back-to-the-basket bigs in rookies Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo.
So the deal makes sense on a number of levels. Call it addition by subtraction, which, in the process, may allow Ainge to re-sign a key role player like Mickael Pietrus.
Is it enough to overcome the loss of Allen and the injury to Bradley? Only time will tell, but this proposed deal would definitely be a step in the right direction.