Courtney Lee Sign-and-Trade Looks Even Better After Johnson's Release by Houston

Nick Farnsworth@@nfarnswAnalyst IOctober 30, 2012

Courtney Lee will start at shooting guard Tuesday against the Miami Heat
Courtney Lee will start at shooting guard Tuesday against the Miami HeatMark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

The Boston Celtics traveled to Miami earlier this week to prepare for the opening game of the season against their biggest rival, the Miami Heat.

Tonight the Heat will be presented with their rings and the championship banner will be raised to the rafters before the game, but the Celtics appear prepared for another season of close match-ups due to a number of off-season acquisitions that bolstered the team's depth.

In particular, tonight will be a big night for the recently acquired Courtney Lee, who will have the chance to start his first game in a Celtics uniform against one of the most dynamic teams in the NBA.

Although everyone in Boston is excited about the headline packed game tonight, Danny Ainge must be particularly ecstatic as news came out yesterday that confirms Ainge gave up close to nothing to bring Courtney Lee, the starting shooting guard for the game, to the Celtics.

Caleb Martin of WLFI reports that JaJuan Johnson, one of the more valuable pieces of the Lee sign-and-trade, has been waived by the Houston Rockets on the day of their final roster cuts. 

Courtney Lee was sent to Boston in exchange for Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, Sean Williams, and a second round pick to Houston, as well as Boston sending Sasha Pavlovic, two second-round picks, and cash to the Portland Trailblazers for salary matching purposes.

When the sign-and-trade was made final, Houston subsequently waived E'Twaun Moore and Sean Williams, leaving Johnson and a second round pick as the only assets acquired by Houston in the deal.

Many believed that trading away Johnson and Moore, two young players that seemed to have potential, was hard to swallow, but was justifiable since the Celtics brought in a very talented shooting guard in exchange. 

However, the news that Johnson has been waived by Houston leaves the Rockets with only a second-round pick from the trade. Therefore, two of the players from the trade would likely not have been able to contribute to or even make the Celtics roster at all if they had remained on the team.

In fact E'Twaun Moore appears to be the most valuable player the Celtics traded in the deal now, as he has solidified himself a spot as a reserve guard for the Orlando Magic. And with all of the depth the Celtics currently have at guard he likely would have spent the entire season sitting at the end of the bench. 

Although it is unfortunate to see Williams and Johnson without a job in the league today, it shows that the Celtics ended up essentially trading a reserve guard, an end of the bench player (Pavlovic), and five players that likely wouldn't be on the roster or make the team in the future (Johnson, Williams, and the three second-round picks) for a starting caliber shooting guard in Lee.

That is essentially like walking into a car dealership with five bicycles and trading them for a brand new BMW. 

Looking back on the deal before the season has even started, reveals the potential for the Courtney Lee trade to stand out as one of the best off-season trades in the league.Hopefully Lee will be able to find chemistry with the team quickly and prove once and for all that Ainge was able to acquire a real difference maker for pennies on the dollar.