David Lee

David Lee Announces Retirement

Two-time All-Star David Lee announced on his Instagram page that he has retired from the league.

The Knicks drafted Lee with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2005 draft and he spent five seasons with the franchise. New York dealt him to Golden State via sign-and-trade during the 2010 offseason in order to make room for Amar’e Stoudemire.

Lee started at power forward during his first four seasons as a Warrior. In 2014, he ceded his starting spot to Draymond Green and a year later, he was dealt to the Celtics. He didn’t carve out a meaningful role in Boston and the team found there wasn’t much of a trade market for a traditional low-post four. The Celtics then waived Lee and he spent the rest of the 2015/16 season with the Mavs.

Lee played for the Spurs last season, where he showcased his ability to produce as a role player. He saw 18.7 minutes per game in San Antonio and sported a player efficiency rating of 18.5.

He’ll end his career with a 19.1 player efficiency rating and averages of 13.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game.

Five Notable Veteran Free Agents Still Available

While most noteworthy free agents came off the board in July, September brought with it a wave of pre-camp signings that saw the last few restricted free agents locked up, along with veteran unrestricted free agents like Tony Allen, Dante Cunningham, Aaron Brooks, and Shabazz Muhammad.

That wave of pre-camp signings created a scarcity of viable options on the list of 2017 free agents, but the shrinking group of available options still features a handful of intriguing vets. Here’s a breakdown of five names worth keeping an eye on:Deron Williams vertical

  1. Deron Williams, PG: While the former third overall pick is obviously no longer the player he was seven years ago – when he averaged 20+ PPG and 10+ APG – it was just last summer that he received $9MM from the Mavericks to be the club’s starting point guard. For the season, Williams averaged a respectable 11.0 PPG and 5.6 APG, with a .363 3PT% in 64 games for the Mavs and Cavs, but a disastrous showing in the NBA Finals against Golden State diminished his value heading into 2017/18. Still, he’s only 33 years old, and it would be surprising if he didn’t get an opportunity with an NBA team as a backup point guard this year.
  2. Monta Ellis, SG: Ellis is facing a five-game suspension to start the 2017/18 season and is coming off his worst year (8.5 PPG) since his rookie season. He’s not far removed from a 2014/15 campaign in which he averaged 18.9 PPG though, and while he’ll likely never match that figure again, this is only his age-32 season. He should still have something in the tank and could appeal to a team seeking a scorer off the bench.
  3. David Lee, PF: Like Ellis, Lee posted his worst scoring average since his rookie year last season, recording just 7.3 PPG. But Lee’s declining numbers were mostly a result of his new role in San Antonio — his .590 FG% was his best mark in a decade, and his per-minute averages weren’t far off from his career rates. Given how the value of offensive-minded, low-post bigs around the NBA has declined in recent years, however, it’s not a huge surprise that Lee has had trouble finding work.
  4. Derrick Williams, PF: Williams, of course, hasn’t lived up to the hype that surrounded him when he was selected second overall in the 2011 draft. But he was a part of the Cavaliers team that went to the NBA Finals last season, and was solid when he saw action for the team, scoring 6.2 PPG on 50.5% shooting in 25 regular season contests. If former No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett can get a training camp invite from an NBA team, it seems like Williams should be on a roster too.
  5. Spencer Hawes, C: Hawes’ contract made him an expendable piece in 2017, first in Charlotte and then in Milwaukee. After acquiring him at the trade deadline, the Bucks waived and stretched him in August to avoid the luxury-tax threshold. Like most of the other players on this list, Hawes’ best days are probably behind him, but his ability to knock down the occasional three-point shot (.350 career 3PT%) and to help out on the glass (9.0 career rebounds per 36 minutes) could make him a target for teams in need of frontcourt help.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: Free Agents, Antic, Bagley, Heat

The addition of two-way contracts has impacted the ability of veteran free agents to find new homes this offseason, according to David Aldridge of NBA.com in his latest Morning Tip column. Gerald Green, David Lee, Anthony Morrow and Shabazz Muhammad are among the notable free agents who remain on the market and Aldridge points out that many teams are leaving their 15th roster spot open, rather than signing another player. That’s in part due to the ability of teams to sign two players to low-cost two-way deals, Aldridge continues. The increase in veteran minimum salaries under the new CBA has also depressed the free agent market, especially for teams close to or over the luxury tax threshold, Aldridge adds.

In other notable developments around the league:

  • Former NBA big man Pero Antic will play in Serbia for KK Crvena Zvezda during the upcoming season, according to a Sportando report. Antic, who signed a one-year contract, spent the last two seasons in Turkey with Fenerbahce. Antic played 113 games over two seasons for the Hawks, averaging 6.3 PPG and 3.5 RPG in 17.4 MPG.
  • Russell Westbrook‘s ability to coexist with another star player in Paul George and Kemba Walker‘s impact on Dwight Howard in Charlotte are two of the five big NBA questions heading into training camp, according to Buddy Grizzard of Basketball Insiders. The league’s proposal to change the draft lottery has much more to do with access to star players rather than concerns about tanking, Grizzard argues in another of the hot topics he addresses.
  • The potential No. 1 overall pick in the next draft, Marvin Bagley, has been officially cleared to play for Duke, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com tweets. The 6’11” power forward was reclassified into the class of 2017 last month.
  • Roof damage to the Heat’s AmericanAirlines Arena by Hurricane Irma was superficial, Ira Winderman of the Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. The team’s practice court also sustained minor damage, Winderman adds.

Five Notable Big Men Still Available In Free Agency

Andrew Bogut is a former No. 1 pick with NBA Finals experience, and he probably would have had more if not for a fractured tibia he suffered in his first game with the Cavaliers. He’s among several free agent big men remaining on the market who could become bargains as teams fill out their rosters.

Bogut was able to recover without surgery and has been cleared for full basketball workouts. The 12-year veteran is only 32 and believes he has a lot of productive basketball left.

“Rehab’s been good,” he told Steve Aschburner of NBA.com late last month. “I feel strong, everything feels good. But the full explosive stuff will be about another three weeks.”

Bogut was a fixture in Golden State until the Warriors got the opportunity to sign Kevin Durant. They needed to shed salary, so Bogut and his $11MM deal were sent to Dallas. He was traded to the Sixers at the February deadline, then agreed to a buyout before his ill-fated stint in Cleveland.

Bogut doesn’t fear any long-term effects from the injury, saying the bone will “heal stronger than it was before.” He and his agent have sent copies of the medical report to several teams that expressed interest in signing him.

Bogut isn’t the only notable unsigned veteran big man on the market. Here are four others:

  • David Lee — The 34-year-old declined his player option after one year in San Antonio. He was a productive part of the Spurs’ rotation, averaging 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds in 79 games, and thought he could do better than the $2.33MM he was due to make next season. He could still return to San Antonio, although the signing of Joffrey Lauvergne may make him expendable.
  • Kris Humphries — The 32-year-old saw his role decline last season with the Hawks, as his minutes dropped to 12.3 per night. Still, he was productive when he played, averaging 4.6 points and 3.7 rebounds in 56 games. The Hawks have launched a youth movement and renounced their rights to Humphries three weeks ago, so the veteran forward is searching for a new team.
  • Lavoy Allen — The Pacers declined their $4.3MM team option on the 28-year-old last month, leaving him on the open market. The power forward/center has been part of the rotation in Indiana since arriving in a 2014 trade, but saw his playing time decline late in the season. He averaged 2.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in 61 games last year.
  • Roy Hibbert — An All-Star as recently as 2014, Hibbert has been with four teams over the past two seasons and is looking for someone to give him another shot. Hibbert signed with the Hornets last summer and was traded in February to the Bucks, who later sent him to the Nuggets. He played just six games in Denver, wrapping up an overall forgettable year. However, Hibbert is only 30 and will probably get an opportunity from a team in need of veteran help.

Note: Restricted free agents aren’t noted here, since they’re not free to sign with any team, but Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, and Mason Plumlee are among the noteworthy RFA bigs still on the market.

David Lee Declines Player Option

As expected, Spurs big man David Lee has turned down his player option, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. The 34-year-old big man will hit the open market after posting a solid year off the bench for San Antonio.

After playing the 2016/17 campaign on a minimum salary contract, Lee is in line for a raise should he seek one, although his decision to opt out echoes that of fellow Spurs big man Pau Gasol and could possibly just be a means of freeing up cap flexibility for San Antonio.

In 18.7 minutes of action this year, Lee posted 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

Spurs’ David Lee Expected To Decline Player Option

Veteran big man David Lee is expected to opt out of his contract with the Spurs this summer, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (via Twitter). Lee has a player option worth the minimum salary for 2017/18, and would have earned a guaranteed $2.33MM salary if he had opted in, but he’ll head back to the free agent market instead.

News of Lee’s decision comes on the heels of a report indicating that teammate Pau Gasol will also turn down his ’17/18 player option with the Spurs. However, Gasol is expected to work out a new deal that allows him to remain in San Antonio, perhaps for multiple seasons. It’s not clear yet if Lee will be back with the club.

[RELATED: NBA Player Option Decisions For 2017/18]

Lee, 34, had a nice season as a role player in San Antonio, averaging 7.3 PPG and 5.6 RPG in 79 games (18.7 MPG). His .590 FG% was also his best mark in a decade.

Given his respectable showing last season, Lee’s decision to opt out isn’t a surprising one. Even if he’s not able to land more than the minimum as a free agent this summer, he won’t lose out on any money, and he could tack on an extra year of security.

Spurs Notes: Free Agents, Simmons, Paul, Lee

The Spurs’ decision on whether to pursue Chris Paul will play a role in which free agents return next season, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. The organization would have to clear a massive amount of cap space to offer Paul a max deal, which would probably mean renouncing Patty Mills and not matching an offer sheet for restricted free agent Jonathon Simmons. In addition, Dewayne Dedmon and David Lee both have player options and might also be renounced if they opt out. If the Spurs are able to sign Paul, they will have to fill out the roster using their mid-level exception and veterans minimum deals.

There’s more news out of San Antonio:

  • If the Spurs want to keep Simmons, they will get some help from an “arcane” rule, McDonald notes in the same story. The Gilbert Arenas provision limits first-year offers to Simmons to the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, which will be roughly $8.4MM next season. Of course, offer sheets can be heavily backloaded over the final two years, similar to what the Nets did with Tyler Johnson last summer. If the Spurs are operating over the cap, they won’t have the ability to spread the hit evenly over four seasons, so they could be looking at a substantial salary commitment in 2019/20 and 2020/21 for a player who turns 28 in September.
  • To make a realistic run at Paul, the Spurs would have to find a taker for LaMarcus Aldridge, Danny Green or Tony Parker, writes Nick Moyle of The San Antonio Express-News. That means trading them without taking back salary, which will almost certainly require giving up draft picks. Aldridge would probably be the most difficult of the three to move, as he is signed for $21.461MM for next season, along with a $22.347MM player option for 2018/19. Green will make $10MM next year, with a $10MM player option the following season. Parker is entering the final year of his contract at $15.453MM.
  • Lee won’t need surgery for a strained patellar tendon in his left knee, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. The injury, which Lee suffered in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, is expected to heal in about six weeks.

Kawhi Leonard ‘Likely Out’ For Game 4

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said today that Kawhi Leonard is “likely out” for Monday’s Game 4, relays ESPN.com.

That means San Antonio will have to ward off elimination without its star forward, who hasn’t played since aggravating a sprained left ankle after landing on Zaza Pachulia after a jump shot in Game 1.

A first-team All-NBA selection, Leonard has been an indispensable part of the Spurs this season. He averaged 25.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per night, and is considered one of the top defenders in the league. He increased those numbers to 27.7 and 7.8 in the playoffs before the injury.

Popovich added that David Lee is doubtful for Monday after being hurt early in Game 3. He was diagnosed with a torn patellar tendon in his left knee, and the Spurs are waiting for MRI results before they make a decision.

David Lee Diagnosed With Torn Patellar Tendon

Already depleted by injuries, the Spurs may have to finish the postseason without David Lee.

The veteran big man was diagnosed with a torn patellar tendon in his left knee after being pulled early in Saturday’s game, according to Michael C. Wright and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. Lee will undergo an MRI today to confirm the extent of the injury.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich responded, “I have no idea,” when asked about Lee’s status in the post-game press conference.

The injury occurred with 2:57 left in the first quarter when Lee was fouled by Draymond Green while making a layup. He was unable to stay in the game to shoot his free throw and was taken from the court in a wheelchair.

The 33-year-old is in his 12th NBA season and his first with the Spurs. He has a $1.6MM player option for next season and can become a free agent again in July.

San Antonio, which trails Golden State 3-0 in the Western Conference finals, is already playing without Kawhi Leonard, who aggravated an ankle injury in Game 1 of the series, and Tony Parker, who ruptured a quadriceps tendon in the conference semifinals.

Spurs Notes: Parker, Lee, Leonard

Although Tony Parker‘s 2016/17 numbers may be a far cry from what he’s posted throughout his career, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle flags him as a possible game-changer in the upcoming Spurs/Rockets second-round series.

Parker posted just 10.1 points per game this season, his 16th, but raised that to 16.3 in his squad’s first-round victory over the Grizzlies.

Rockets guard Patrick Beverley, one man who will have to check the veteran playmaker, knows all too well that Parker is still capable of dealing damage.

He gets better with time, right?” he said. “He just continues to get better. Tony. His mid-range, his floaters, his spin moves. At his age, how fast he is is unbelievable. He’ll go down as a Hall of Famer, for sure. It’s always good to play a type of player like that.

There’s more from the Spurs:

  • When Dewayne Dedmon was under the weather prior to Game 4, Gregg Popovich thrust David Lee into the starting lineup. Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News discusses how the veteran was able to make the seamless transition into the starting lineup.
  • Even though he’s made a case for the award himself, Kawhi Leonard understands that he’ll have his work cut out for him guarding MVP candidate James Harden. “It’s going to take my all to try to make it difficult for him out there,” the forward told Melissa Rohlin of MySanAntonio.com.
  • One of the key matchups to watch in the second-round tilt between the Spurs and Rockets will be Parker versus Beverley. Tom Osborn of the Houston Chronicle wonders if the 34-year-old veteran can keep his offensive streak alive against his pesky counterpart.
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