David Lee trade rumors have kicked into high gear for the Boston Celtics. Should the Lee trade rumors not lead to a deal taking place before the NBA trade deadline, the Celtics also have a plan for that situation. A report from CBS Sports on Tuesday, February 16, talks about what president Danny Ainge wants to do with the former All-Star power forward.
The primary plan for Ainge and the Celtics is to trade David Lee before the NBA deadline at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday, February 18. If the team is unable to trade Lee, then it will go through the process of buying out his contract. The Celtics would be able to save some money with that maneuver, while Lee would be free to sign with a new NBA team.
David Lee hasn’t seen a lot of playing time for the Boston Celtics this season and has been relegated to the deep bench. In 30 games, Lee has averaged just 15.7 minutes a night, putting up 7.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. Lee simply isn’t getting the minutes to be a contributor worth the salary that the Celtics have to pay him this season.
Lee is currently in the final season of a large contract he signed with the Golden State Warriors. The deal was for six years and about $80 million, with about $15.5 million on the books for the 2016 NBA season. The incentive for another team to take on Lee is that he becomes a free agent at the end of the season, and could offer some depth in the second half.
While the Boston Celtics would certainly like to use a David Lee trade to bring back an asset or two, the reality is that the team may have to buy him out. Every dollar Danny Ainge can save will get the Celtics further away from the NBA salary cap threshold. If he isn’t dealt before the NBA trade deadline, the Celtics front office will get together with Lee’s agent and work out a deal to buy him out. This would involve Lee taking a bit less than his current salary so that he can immediately become a free agent.
There are a lot of NBA teams that would like to have David Lee for the race to the postseason and then the 2016 NBA Playoffs. He is a cost-prohibitive player to many contending teams, though, because there are so many brushing up against the luxury tax penalties. Thus, waiting until Lee is a free agent could be the way to go for several teams. With quite a few needing some added size off the bench, Lee could have a lot of suitors in free agency. That could include teams like the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, and L.A. Clippers.
One team that could show up in the David Lee trade rumors is the Portland Trail Blazers. The team could absorb his salary for this season and take him in a straight trade if the Boston Celtics added an incentive to the deal. Placing a second-round pick for the 2016 NBA Draft in the mix might just get the Blazers to take Lee for the rest of the NBA season. It could also be beneficial for the Blazers, as the team could use some more size and offense with its second unit.
There are still going to be a lot of David Lee trade rumors as February 18 approaches, with the most likely scenario being that he remains with the Boston Celtics. If Lee does get moved in a trade, it could be in a multiple-team deal where his salary is used to match that of a player coming to Boston.
[Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]