Despite making the All-Star game last season, there were those who thought David Lee wasn’t actually such a valuable member of the Golden State Warriors, and the team might be better without him in the lineup or the team, and that trading him would be a better solution to the question of what to do with him.
But with all the enthusiasm of rookie forward Harrison Barnes, there’s a big difference from playing in the playoffs for a few weeks at the power forward position, when plenty of teams use smaller lineups, which allows players like Barnes to do quite well on the boards and defensively, and spending an entire season as a small forward playing in the wrong slot.
Lee averaged 18.5 points and 11.2 rebounds last season for the Warriors, and it’s hard to argue with numbers. But statistics can lie. Lee is a slightly lazy defensive player. Yes, he gives it all when fighting for the boards, but it’s very easy to get around him when posting him up, and it’s not rare to see him focused out of the play, already thinking about something else when defense should be on his mind.
Did the Warriors try to trade him this offseason? There were talks regarding some move with the Portland Trail Blazers and LaMarcus Aldridge, but nothing came out of that, and that deal, in all fairness, just doesn’t seem like a reasonable one for the Blazers to make.
Lee is owed $44.38 million through the 2015-16 season, and even though he brings numbers, in the new financial reality of the NBA, that isn’t the kind of deal teams like to take on for such a long time. Maybe in a couple of more years, when he’s an expiring deal, it’ll be easier to move him, with some team looking to take on more than $15 million a season.