NBA Rumors: How Would Courtney Lee Fit into Boston Celtics' Championship Plans?

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2012

NBA Rumors: How Would Courtney Lee Fit into Boston Celtics' Championship Plans?

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    Houston Rockets free agent Courtney Lee is an intriguing addition for teams looking to add a consistent shooting guard to the rotation. 

    He may not have especially exciting star potential, but there isn't much doubt about how he'll perform.

    That's likely what interests the Boston Celtics, who are losing marksman shooting guard Ray Allen to the Miami Heat.

    According to ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg, Boston is one of many teams with their eyes on Lee:

    Free agent guard Courtney Lee, who met with Celtics coach Doc Rivers over the weekend, dropped by the Orlando Summer League on Monday afternoon and confirmed that Boston is one of "more than eight teams" in the mix for his services.

    Apparently both sides are interested, so the only question left is how to make a deal happen.

    If Boston can't convince Lee to take a pay cut, it would need to work out a sign-and-trade arrangement with the Rockets. Given how valuable Lee could be to the Celtics' title pursuits, it might be well worth the hassle.

Perimeter Defense

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    The Boston Celtics already have an exceptional perimeter defender in Avery Bradley, but Courtney Lee has more size and is better equipped to handle opposing shooting guards. 

    The 6'5" Lee is long and athletic enough to keep some of the league's best scorers in front of him, and he's a perfect candidate to give Dwyane Wade some trouble in the East. Given how much the Celtics preach gritty defense, Lee would be a perfect fit for the culture.

    Lee's defensive ability would either make him a candidate to start alongside Rajon Rondo or potentially come off the bench and play important minutes as a sixth man. Given his size advantage over Bradley, a starting job may make more sense.

Three-Point Range

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    The Boston Celtics have some good perimeter shooters in Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley. Jason Terry's arrival in Boston will certainly add to that arsenal.

    Adding Courtney Lee to the fold would give point guard Rajon Rondo yet another option.

    Lee excels at hitting the corner three, a shot that Ray Allen himself was quite fond of. 

    Spreading the floor is key to Boston's offense. If guys like Pierce and Kevin Garnett have a chance to create their own offense, they need guys in the corner who can keep defenders honest.


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    At just 26 years old, it makes sense to invest in a guy like Courtney Lee.

    He's entering his prime, and he'll have plenty of good years left in him. With Paul Pierce already 34, adding some youth to the wing will pay off for the Celtics both in terms of their current title ambitions and in the long term.

    Boston added some youth by drafting big men Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo this June. 

    Point guard Rajon Rondo is still just 26.

    Lee would fit into to that group down the road if he managed to stick around long enough.

Finishing Ability

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    Courtney Lee may not be known as the most dynamic slasher in the game, but he's pretty good at getting to the rim and finishing with his right hand.

    He's got enough athletic ability to finish strong or otherwise adjust and make the layup, and he's explosive enough to force the issue when shot-blockers aren't lurking.

    That's something the Celtics haven't had in the backcourt for some time. Since Ray Allen didn't become a Celtic until the latter stages of his career, Boston's wing has been characterized by perimeter shooting of late.


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    Courtney Lee has shot around 40 percent from behind the three-point line in three of his four seasons. 

    That's pretty remarkable consistency for a guy who's rarely mentioned among the league's better scorers. And, that's part of what makes Lee more special that meets the eye.

    A lot of young players will show flashes of talent, but few have remained so steady.

    He's never averaged fewer than 8.3 points per game, and that was due primarily to limited playing time in his first season with Houston. Lee also picks up at least a steal per context, excepting that same campaign with the Rockets.

    The Celtics know what they'd be getting in Lee, and that should make it easier to get a deal done.