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 Charged.fm (on Twitter), and as Marc Stein of ESPN.com 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 CBSSports.com. 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.