At the moment, it seems David Lee is on a one-way ticket towards another trade before the deadline. The Golden State Warriors got rid of him before the season began, and the Boston Celtics are struggling to find good use for him as well.
Lee is averaging 7.2 points and 4.3 rebounds in 15.7 minutes a night. If the Celtics or anyone play him for 30 minutes he’s still a close to double double average kind of player. He’s averaging 16.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per 36 minutes. But as the Warriors found out last season just how much better they are without him, the Celtics seem to be in the same mindset.
Lee is a hole on defense, and his game, which is about the pick and roll and less about spacing and ball movement, seems to be someone who is falling out of touch with the direction the NBA is headed in. The Celtics are losing by 2.8 points per 100 possessions when he’s playing, and are 8.8 points per 100 possessions worse when he’s on the floor compared to the minutes without him. He was barely used by Steve Kerr in the run to the NBA championship. The Warriors were simply better without the automatic 15-10 he was going to give them.
Lee did miss a lot of games last season due to injury, but this year he’s picking up a lot of DNP-CDs, which hints that Brad Stevens probably would like to see him play somewhere else by the time the trade deadline has passed. Lee himself is sending out optimistic messages about working hard and feeling confident about helping the team win. But he knows staying here or somewhere else isn’t certain.
With a $15.4 million price tag, it won’t be surprising to see the Celtics move him, although clearing cap space isn’t such a big deal this season and heading into the summer because of the huge salary cap hike. Lee wants to be on a team that makes the playoffs and has a chance of winning something. He also wants to be playing. He can still be out there for more than what the Celtics are giving him. But just like the Warriors understood quickly a year ago, the Celtics and anyone else with the playoffs and more on their mind, won’t find a lot of use for Lee.