When he burst onto the NBA scene as a rookie in 2008-09, a fully formed Courtney Lee bordered on being overrated by the media. In the years since that season, one that saw a Magic team Lee started for make the NBA Finals, Lee's play has stayed remarkably consistent in terms of points per minute, Player Efficiency Rating, and shooting percentage. And it's based on those consistent numbers, along with a more sober view of who Lee is as a player, that we applaud the Boston Celtics' machinations in acquiring the shooting guard.
Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported the sign and trade on Thursday and the terms on Friday: $21.5 million over four years, full guaranteed. That's basically the average salary for a starting quality player, one who will be locked up through his prime (Lee turns 27 in October), and one that fills a need for Boston in the wake of Ray Allen's defection to Miami. Poifect, Boston. Poifect.
The deal certainly won't put Boston over the top, or even guarantee this aging crew a spot in the second round. At times, though he may start, Lee might only be the team's third-best shooting guard, behind veteran Jason Terry and comer Avery Bradley. With Terry being perhaps better served coming off the bench, and Bradley potentially out for the first chunk of 2012-13 as he recovers from duel shoulder surgeries (to say nothing of the point guard height they both come to work with), Lee's a helpful option here.
As for Houston, it'll say goodbye to a player it really didn't need in Lee — with Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and Gary Forbes on the roster — and take a flier on big man JaJuan Johnson in his second season. Johnson and former Boston and Purdue teammate E'Twaun Moore (who was dealt in the sign and trade but soon to be released) disappointed in their first year in Boston, even by lower-round standards. Both have NBA talent and Johnson has NBA size, along with Kevin McHale in his corner and a year under his belt, so this could be the first step in Johnson's move toward working as a reliable NBA reserve center.
Sound work, NBA GMs. Club sandwiches for everyone.