Celtics Trying To Clear Space For Courtney Lee

July 14 2012 at 2:32pm CST By Chuck Myron

The Celtics agreed to terms with Jason Terry last week, but they'd "love" to turn the deal into a sign-and-trade with the Mavericks in order to free their mid-level exception to pursue Courtney Lee, according to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. Sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that the Mavericks and Celtics discussed a sign-and-trade for Terry earlier in the process, but the Mavs are no longer open to such a move (Twitter link). Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas.com hears the only way a sign-and-trade happens is if a third team gets involved.

 To facilitate a sign-and-trade with the Mavericks, Washburn says the Celtics would likely have to give up a combination of young players, like E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, or perhaps veterans Mickael Pietrus or Keyon Dooling. Since Pietrus and Dooling are free agents, they'd have to consent to be signed-and-traded. Nonetheless, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge remains optimistic he can work something out to land Lee, tweets Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com, suggesting a sign-and-trade with the Rockets as a possibility, however difficult.

While the Celtics formally announced contracts for Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox earlier today, the Celtics haven't finalized deals with Terry and Jeff Green in order to retain flexibility, as Forsberg writes. The Celtics have also been linked to O.J. Mayo in a possible sign-and-trade deal.

Earlier this week a report by Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune said Lee could become the top target of the Wolves if their pursuit of Nicolas Batum comes up empty. Lee, an unrestricted free agent, identified the Celtics as one of eight teams with interest in him.

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