Boston Celtics

NBA Rumors: Boston Celtics Must Do Sign-and-Trade for Courtney Lee

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26:  Courtney Lee #5 of the Houston Rockets drives with the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers during their opening night game at Staples Center on October 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2012

The Boston Celtics need to fill the void left by Ray Allen's departure to the Miami Heat and Avery Bradley's shoulder surgery.

According to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com, Bradley won't be ready to go right away next season.

#CelticsTalk: My bad. #Celtics Bradley already had left shoulder surgery. Right shoulder surgery next. AB still expected out 2 start season.

— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) July 8, 2012

After re-signing Kevin Garnett and inking Jason Terry to a deal, the Celtics don't have much cap room to work with. That rules out guys like Louis Williams, O.J. Mayo and Jodie Meeks from lining up in the Boston backcourt next season.

Instead, Danny Ainge must get creative. According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, the Celtics have emerged as suitors for free-agent guard Courtney Lee, but they can't sign him outright. 

The Celtics don't have the salary-cap space to sign Lee outright, but sources say the Rockets have let it be known that they're willing to participate in sign-and-trade deals with both Marcus Camby and Lee amid the increasing likelihood that neither of those coveted free agents will be returning to Houston.

I never thought I'd say that Lee is a "must sign," but I think he is in this situation. He's a proven player who buys in on both ends of the floor, and he has experience with several different teams.

Last year, Lee averaged 11.4 points per game. The 26-year-old shooting guard also hit 40 percent of his three-point attempts. His strength lies in his perimeter shooting, but his 6'5'' frame doesn't hurt his ability to get to the rim, either.

Boston is going to need help on offense.

Terry will add an established perimeter presence, but he doesn't bring much else to the table. Bradley, even when healthy, is primarily used on the defensive end. He is a scrappy defender, but his offense is a work in progress.

Lee isn't going to put the Celtics back where they need to be, but he would be an excellent bench presence. He can score in bunches, and his defensive ability doesn't make him a liability late in the game. He's still young, and it might benefit Boston to get him under contract for a few seasons.

In an ideal world, the Celtics would have enough money to sign Mayo or Williams. Both players would bring more scoring and more excitement, but they don't have the capital to make it happen.

Lee is available, capable and fits the Celtics' current plans. Their hands are tied for the most part, but Lee is in their wheelhouse.

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