It has been reported (via USA Today Sports) that the Boston Celtics have agreed to trade guard Courtney Lee to the Memphis Grizzlies for point guard Jerryd Bayless. Lee did not suit up for the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Lee is a very good veteran player who excels in a bench role. He provides a significant spark, plays tough defense and can hit the open three–a perfect fit for the Grizzlies. This season, he is averaging 7.4 points per game while shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc.
Bayless is averaging eight points and two assists, but is having a poor shooting year–29 percent from three-point land. Bayless does, however, provide an offensive spark off the bench and the Celtics have witnessed it first-hand. In two games against the Celtics, he led the Grizzlies to victory by scoring 22 points and 15 points off the bench.
With an overstock of shooting guards, the deal was necessary for the Celtics to make. Boston desperately needed more point guard depth since Rajon Rondo is out and Phil Pressey is so inexperienced.
Courtney Lee has two more years on his deal after the 2013-14 season. He is owed about $11 million in that time. Jerryd Bayless is due to make about $3 million this year, as well as a player option for about $3.5 million next season. Since the Grizzlies had a trade exception from the Rudy Gay deal, they were willing to take on Lee’s contract. The Celtics save nearly $10 million assuming Bayless accepts the player option. Bayless’ contract is more reasonable for the Celtics to handle than Lee’s.
Now the depth chart is much more balanced. There were too many shooting guards on the Celtics’ roster. The shooting guard position consisted of Avery Bradley, Jordan Crawford, Lee, Marshon Brooks and Keith Bogans. The point guard position consisted of Rondo and Pressey; one is out with an injury, while the other is an undrafted rookie. Even though Crawford has been doing well in the point guard role, the Celtics clearly do not have enough depth at the position. With the acquisition of Bayless and the eventual return of Rondo, everybody is in the correct role. Rondo is the starting point guard with Bayless as the backup, and Bradley is the starting shooting guard with Crawford coming off the bench to provide an offensive spark.
Ultimately, this deal benefits the Celtics both financially and strengthens their roster. Good move by Danny Ainge to shed some salary and add more point guard depth.