But Lee’s minutes (15.8), points (7.3) and rebounds (4.3) per game are all down from last season, let alone his peak. There isn’t much margin for error in a frontcourt that also includes Jared Sullinger, Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Jonas Jerebko and Tyler Zeller.
So, Lee might be on the move again.
The Celtics have been very solid, but Coach Brad Stevens has a minutes problem, as evidenced by the lack of time for David Lee—whose expiring contract is available, per league sources.
Lee can help teams as a skilled-passing big, but it’ll be difficult for Boston to trade him just because of his $15,493,680 salary. Many teams will have trouble aggregating enough salary to satisfy the league’s trade-matching rules without including players more valuable than Lee.
His primary value is as a large expiring contract that can facilitate a larger trade for a high-priced star. The Celtics’ valuable draft picks would be a centerpiece of any such deal, but they count as $0 in a trade. So, sending out Lee could could be a simple way for Boston to match salaries.
Most likely, the Celtics keep Lee and let his contract expire – and maybe waive Johnson and Jerebko, whose salaries for next season are unguaranteed – to create a ton of cap space.