Left with a need on the wing after the announcement of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's season-ending shoulder surgery, the Charlotte Hornets acquired guard Courtney Lee from the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday.
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported the news. Charlotte will send guard Brian Roberts and PJ Hairston along with two second-round picks to Memphis in exchange. Roberts will be rerouted to Miami for two second-round picks and forward Chris Andersen to complete the three-team deal.
Hornets head coach Steve Clifford said Lee will start, per Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
Lee, 30, is averaging 10.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. He's knocking down 37 percent of his threes this season, his third in Memphis. Acquired midway through the 2013-14 campaign, Lee has been one of Memphis' few consistent outside shooters since his arrival. He and Mike Conley are the only two Grizzlies players shooting at least 35 percent from three and averaging at least one attempt per game.
Synergy Sports highlighted Lee's efficiency:
Of the 186 players who use over 9 possessions per game, Courtney Lee ranks 25th in scoring efficiency. Reliable, jack of all trades scorer.— Synergy Sports Tech (@SynergySST) February 16, 2016
The former Western Kentucky star also became a staple in the close-knit Memphis locker room. In January, he treated roughly 130 team employees to a meal and has long been a quiet member of an otherwise boisterous Grizzlies roster.
The basketball reasoning behind this deal seems superficially strange until adding context. Lee is an unrestricted free agent this summer. He's making $5.7 million in the final year of his contract and will likely receive a raise in the millions of dollars thanks to the NBA's cap boom.
While nothing Memphis received in exchange moves the needle much, this isn't a team competing for an NBA championship. Marc Gasol's season-ending injury put any hopes of a deep playoff run on ice; the Grizz are probably going to get steamrolled regardless of their opponent.
So in essence, they're landing four second-round picks, which are more valuable than ever, and a former first-rounder (Hairston) in exchange for Lee and taking back Andersen's contract. Not a bad value for a player who might be walking in a few months.
The Hornets are part of a fierce battle among bottom-tier Eastern Conference playoff teams and weren't getting much use out of Hairston or Roberts. Hairston was a starter in name only and is shooting a miserable 35.9 percent from the floor. Couple that with his history of questionable off-court decisions, and there's not much here to discuss.
Miami, meanwhile, is simply dumping Andersen's salary for tax savings. The $2.1 million difference in salary will help lower the Heat's salary burden immensely without hurting their on-court product. With Chris Bosh dealing with another blood clot scare, per Wojnarowski, making a fiscally motivated move makes sense.