Let’s Talk Trades: Courtney Lee Finds a New Home in Memphis


This is the first LTT which features no big names. No Rudy Gay, no Luol Deng, no Andrew Bynum. Instead, we’re dealing very much in role-player land here, where the biggest names are Courtney Lee and Jerryd Bayless.

I think Courtney Lee is the only player involved in this deal who was acquired for what they could actually do on the court. Bayless, the only other currently-relevant player in this deal (apologies to Ryan Gomes), was acquired by Boston mainly for the fact that he’s on a $3.1m expiring deal. Boston’s not intending to win this season, obviously, so saving on the $11m left on Lee’s contract over the next two years was a no-brainer.

The Celtics also received Ryan Gomes in the deal, and he was promptly waived.

Although it’s quite obvious that Lee was brought in by the Grizzlies to provide them with some outside shooting (which they sorely, sorely need), I found it a little puzzling as to why they chose to send Bayless out. From what little I saw of them in the playoffs last season, the Grizzlies’ only players who could shoot from the outside were Quincy Pondexter and Bayless. Granted, they’ve since gotten Mike Miller to help in that, and have let Jon Leuer take some 3s, but Miller’s body is just falling apart and Leuer is still new to this (although he IS shooting 47% from downtown so far this season). Getting one outside shooter in exchange for another doesn’t seem to make sense.

It’s true though, that Bayless isn’t that much of a marksman from behind the line, and his percentages have dropped quite a bit this season. So maybe the Grizzlies made the right choice after all. Personally though, given how little shooting this team has, I would’ve tried to send someone else out instead.

Other than the players, there were a few picks exchanging hands. Memphis got a 2016 second-round pick from Boston, and Oklahoma (who sent out Ryan Gomes in a money-saving move) received the Grizzlies’ 2014 and 2017 second-round picks. I don’t expect any of these to amount to much, with the Celtics’ second-rounder and the Grizzlies’ 2017 second-rounder most likely to be the most valuable, and even then that’s only in relative terms.

(I point out those two picks because I expect the Celtics to be bad for another couple years at least, and also that the Grizzlies fall out of playoff contention within the next couple years as well, making those picks likely to be high in the second round)

Put simply, this was a trade made to save money for Boston and Oklahoma, while giving the Grizzlies a capable outside shooter, albeit at a somewhat inflated price. I don’t think Lee alone will do much to improve the Grizzlies’ fortunes, but they didn’t give up much to get him, so there’s no overpaying involved here.

Sidenote: I wish the Mavs made moves like the Thunder did here. Just sending fringe players out for the savings and a pick or two (even second-rounders) can help. The assets might come in handy in the future, and at the very least you save a little bit of money. I like that Cuban is willing to spend, but I don’t see a problem with saving wherever possible either.

That said, given the issues with the Mavs’ team, they probably could use everyone they have on the roster currently. Sigh.

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