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Celtics Acquire David Lee

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

JULY 27TH, 11:10am: The deal is finally official, the Celtics announce. It’s Babb and Wallace headed to Golden State, with Lee going to Boston.

“We are excited to welcome David as a member of the Celtics family,” Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said. “His proven skill set and experience on a championship team will add valuable depth to our frontcourt and a veteran presence to our locker room.”

The Warriors followed with their own press release to confirm the deal.

“On behalf of the entire Golden State Warriors organization, we thank David Lee for his contributions both on and off the court over the last five years,” Warriors GM Bob Myers said. “Throughout his time with the Warriors, David was a great player, competitor and presence in our locker room as well as in the community and was a stabilizing force during a period that saw many positive changes within the organization. Most importantly, he leaves Golden State as an NBA champion. We wish him nothing but the best in the next chapter of his career.”

4:09pm: The teams are still considering “several different ways” to structure the trade and are in no rush, a source tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). In any case, the Celtics have no intention of flipping Lee to another team, Himmelsbach also hears (on Twitter).

3:03pm: Babb is most likely the player headed to the Warriors, tweets Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, who nonetheless won’t rule out that it’ll be Pressey going to Golden State instead.

2:43pm: Berger clarifies that no picks or cash are headed to Golden State in addition to Wallace, but a “filler contract” will go from the Celtics to the Warriors, he says (Twitter link).

2:11pm: Boston will send another player to the Warriors, according to Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link), which conflicts with Berger’s report. That’s perhaps a signal that the Celtics will seek to stay over the cap, a maneuver that would allow them to keep their trade exceptions. In any case, the extra player who would be going to Golden State would be on a make-good deal, Amick adds. Phil Pressey and Chris Babb are Boston’s only players on non-guaranteed contracts.

JULY 7TH: 1:46pm: The Celtics have agreed with the Warriors on a trade that will send David Lee to Boston, reports Tommy Dee of (on Twitter), and as Marc Stein of confirms (Twitter link). Gerald Wallace will head to Golden State, Stein adds (on Twitter). Part of the efficacy of the deal for Golden State is that it can use the stretch provision to waive Wallace and spread his nearly $10.106MM salary, while Lee’s contract is ineligible for the provision because he signed it under the previous collective bargaining agreement, notes SB Nation’s Mike Prada (Twitter link). The Celtics can open cap room, so it won’t matter that Lee’s salary of nearly $15.494MM is more than $5MM in excess of Wallace’s. Indeed, no other players are involved in the deal, tweets Ken Berger of Boston, despite its multitude of trade exceptions, doesn’t possess one large enough to absorb Lee’s salary, and trade exceptions can’t be combined.

The Warriors plan to keep Wallace, despite the tax savings the team could reap if they waive him, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link), though they have until August 31st to change their minds and spread his salary in equal thirds over the next three seasons. Golden State was poised to have a payroll in excess of $100MM before their agreement on this deal, and while bringing in Wallace would take that figure closer to $96MM, that’s still well in excess of a tax line projected to fall around $82MM.

Lee provides the Celtics a player who’s shown more production in the last two seasons than Wallace has, even though Lee receded from Golden State’s rotation for stretches this year. He isn’t the superstar or the rim-protector that the Celtics have long sought, but he averaged 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds in 33.2 minutes per game for a playoff-bound Warriors team in 2013/14.

The Knicks and Lakers had reportedly considered trading for the 32-year-old former All-Star as Lee’s representatives and the Warriors sought takers for his contract, which expires next summer. However, record gate receipts from the team’s run to the Finals left Golden State with greater comfort in paying at least a moderate amount of tax, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe reported. Lowe suggested that it meant the Warriors had become more likely to swing a trade that brought back salary in return, as is the case with this deal.

Boston had reportedly been willing enough to trade Wallace that it would have parted with a first-round pick to make it happen, but it looks like the Celtics won’t have to pay that price. The forward turns 33 later this month and saw only 8.9 minutes per game this past season. His contract, like Lee’s, runs only through 2015/16.

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11 thoughts on “Celtics Acquire David Lee

  1. Z.....

    I mean…at that point, why not just keep David Lee and let his deal expire at the end of the season, try to keep Harrison Barnes, and then go after Durant?

    David Lee wouldnt be too bad a fit with the Celtics in some ways, but they have multiple guys in that power rotation that may be on the trading block now, and they still need rim protection

  2. Z.....

    oh ok…they plan on keeping him. That stretch provision didnt really make sense to me. At the end of the bench, he could give them some versatility in some ways, and obviously thats what GS does well. He is still pretty good defensively, so there’s that, but I think losing David Lee hurts them a bit. He is a guy that they can throw the ball into in the post to set up some offense, including passes back out to the perimeter. They can even run some stuff in the high post through him, and he plays well off Bogut offensively in high low situations. This just seems like a pure money move, even where they are relating to the tax

    • Kenneth

      I agree with that you said regarding how to use him in the paint to create offense, especially since he’s a good passer. However, in the long run, he would rarely play with their current line up. Why not take the extra $5M savings. This move hardly effects the talent and play of this team.

      • Kenneth

        And he did barely play this last season

        • Z.....

          obviously. I’m just saying, its nice depth in an area where they dont have as much. Still, I obviously understand the reasoning

  3. matt

    what exactly is a make-good deal? to make salaries match up?

    • matt

      oh ok update basicly clarified it for me

  4. Chris Crouse

    Wallace was a throw-in to make salaries match in the KG trade. Can’t believe Ainge got value of out it and David Lee can still play

  5. rxbrgr

    Was Babb included to offer the Celtics a chance to do the deal over-the-cap, instead of absorbing Lee into cap space? Babb’s salary with Wallace’s makes the salaries match up per the rules. And since Babb’s on a minimum contract, the Warriors can create a sizable trade exception for the difference in Lee’s and Wallace’s salary.

  6. Z.....

    Literally just thought of this. I wonder if they could have made a 3 team deal work with Washington…David Lee to the Celtics, Gerald Wallace to Washington, Nene to GS….

    Wallace gives GS some depth for the things they do, as a combo forward, but they can still use a backup 5, and Nene would have fit pretty well, in my opinion. Similar skillset to David Lee, but can actually play the 5 behind Bogut, and in front of Ezili

    Meanwhile, Washington gets rid of Nene, and can play a more up and down style, like they want, and Wallace gives them depth, and more of a veteran presence at that position, especially while Jared Dudley is out. Just kind of thinking out loud. No big deal lol

  7. jevon hagins


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