“We are excited to welcome David as a member of the Celtics family,” said President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge when the Celtics officially announced the trade on Monday. “His proven skill set and experience on a championship team will add valuable depth to our frontcourt and a veteran presence to our locker room.”
ESPN.com's Marc Stein originally reported Golden State agreed to deal the 32-year-old Lee to the Celtics on July 7, as SportsCenter tweeted:
David Aldridge of NBA.com provided a statement from David Lee's agent, Mark Bartlestein, following the initial news:
They really like him. They pursued him for a long time. Bob Myers worked very hard with me to try and get David to a place he wanted to be. Boston is a great basketball town, great history with that franchise. It's an up and coming team. Everywhere David has been--Golden State, New York and now Boston--there has been a great basketball tradition. Every player wants to go where they can have a huge impact on a team's success.
Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports reported the Warriors intend to keep Wallace, while former Brooklyn Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks noted why Golden State could use the stretch provision on him:
Lee spoke about his time with the Warriors on Instagram:
Want to take a moment to thank the entire Bay Area for what's been the best 5 years of my life. The journey from a 23 win team to NBA champs is one I'll never forget. Thanks to the most loyal fans in basketball for supporting me the entire way! This season's success happened because of the amazing character and chemistry from the 15 men on the roster, the front office, coaches, and staff all wanting the same thing, to win a championship. Much Love for the Bay and for the Warriors and I'm truly blessed to have been a part of it! #GSW #FullSquad
Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported the deal is just a one-for-one move with no additional pieces included. However, Sam Amick of USA Today reported that the Celtics will have to send another to-be-named player in the deal to make the money work. Berger reported no money or draft picks will be involved in the trade.
Lee is coming off the worst season of his career, appearing in just 49 games with four starts and averaging 7.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. He did play in each of the last four games of the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, scoring a total of 22 points in about 39 minutes.
Golden State's success was going to have a ripple effect on veteran players with big contracts like Lee, who is set to make almost $15.5 million in the final year of his deal. It also doesn't help his cause that Warriors head coach Steve Kerr reduced his role in the rotation.
According to a February report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the impetus for trading Lee stemmed from his huge salary for next season and the restricted free agency of forward Draymond Green:
For the Warriors to find a way to keep Green, they'll have to move David Lee and the $15 million owed him in the 2015-16 season. Ownership has instructed management in Golden State that it doesn't need to find a deal for Lee before the trade deadline, because the organization simply doesn't want to upset the balance and chemistry of a championship contender.
Green agreed to an extension with the Warriors worth $82 million, per Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News.
Green weighed in on the Warriors' trade involving Lee:
Even though a deal didn't materialize before the trade deadline, Stein reported after Golden State's championship triumph that Lee and the Warriors were working in conjunction to find a trade partner:
The good news is that the Warriors were able to find a team that would take Lee, and it seems like an amicable split for both sides. Lee is not far removed from being a productive big man as a starter, averaging 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game in 2013-14.
Credit the Warriors for understanding the bigger picture as it relates to Green, as well as working with a player who has spent his last five years with Golden State to make him happy on his way out. Wallace has had a diminishing role dating back to his last season in Brooklyn two years ago, so Boston had no reason to keep him around.
Wallace played in a career-low 32 games and averaged 1.1 points and 1.8 rebounds per game with the Celtics last year.
The Celtics were able to land a big man who proved he's willing to be a great teammate last season and has a long history of putting up solid numbers.
Lee has a chance to reinvent himself, or at least return to the double-double threat he has been, while he's still young enough to be a productive player. With a good season, he could end up with one more long-term contract.