It was widely believed that David Lee’s days in Golden State were numbered.
As it turns out, they were.
The Warriors have agreed to trade Lee to the Boston Celtics for veteran Gerald Wallace. It’s not a franchise-changing move for Boston, but it certainly helps.
“He’s been highly paid over the last several years, and obviously the Warriors did not have a spot for him,” Boston Globe NBA writer Gary Washburn said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The Celtics do. The Celtics are looking for a proven player. They really weren’t able to get one in free agency. They got Amir Johnson, but they were looking to get bigger in the front court and get a proven player and David Lee was available.”
Lee, 32, averaged 7.9 points and 5.2 rebounds in limited action last season but came on strong in the Finals, helping the Warriors to their first championship since 1975.
Overall, Washburn likes the addition.
“Yeah, I think they needed a veteran player,” he said. “They needed someone . . . with experience who could rebound, who could (help) around the basket. They don’t have a legitimate center there. Tyler Zeller had a great year last year, but he’s not a true rebounder or imposing big man. They needed someone. And I think the fact that he’s got an expiring contract (and will) be back on the free-agent market next year when his contract comes off the books is something that attracted (Boston). And obviously they had Gerald Wallace’s contract to offer – $10 million next year – for a guy who isn’t going to play much. The Warriors are looking to get under the luxury tax. They’re looking to pay less taxes because they obviously gave Draymond Green $17 million a year, so that’s a slight raise from what he made last year. I think it was a good deal for both sides.”
The Celtics made the playoffs last season despite finishing with a 40-42 record and were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round. Still, they showed signs of improvement down the stretch and closed the regular season with six straight wins.
Adding Lee, as well as draft picks Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter, are positive steps – even if some Celtics fans didn’t like the picks.
“I thought they could have taken different players,” Washburn said. “They could have taken a Bobby Portis with that first-round pick. They could have taken Justin Anderson from Virginia. If there’s something they really liked about Rozier, they liked his speed. This is a team that wants to get fast in the back court and wants to defend. Rozier can fill both of those needs. He’s a guy who played combo guard. I don’t think there was a lot known about him before the draft. This is a guy who was perhaps projected as a second-round pick, but he blew their minds in his workout.”
Washburn liked the Hunter pick, saying he’s “the shooter they’ve been looking for since Ray Allen left.”
“I think he’ll be a good addition for them,” Washburn said, “(but) a lot of Celtics fans were not pleased because they didn’t get that impact player. They really wanted Justise Winslow. They wanted a guy that people had heard of. So when you look at Terry Rozier, he’s not a guy that most casual basketball fans have hard of. They wanted (Jahlil) Okafor, they wanted (Karl-Anthony) Towns. They wanted a guy who they’ve heard of. Rozier is going to have to prove himself. He’s going to have to endear himself to the Celtics faithful.”