For Lee, Rivers, it’s a match game
Free agent guard high on Boston
ORLANDO, Fla. — Free agent guard Courtney Lee lives in Orlando and was one of the few current NBA players hanging out at the opener of the Orlando Summer League Monday at Amway Center.
Lee has met with Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who has expressed interest in having Lee come to Boston to help replace Ray Allen. Lee said the interest is mutual, and his signing with the team is a matter of coming to an agreeable contract.
The Celtics do not have the salary-cap space to sign Lee for what he is worth, so the next-best option is a sign-and-trade with the Rockets, the team that just pulled Lee’s qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Lee, who averaged 11.4 points per game last season in Houston, said he would like to get something done with the Celtics.
“Me and Doc, we’ve always had a relationship since I’ve been in the NBA,” he said. “I’m a friend of both of his kids, Austin and Jeremiah. We work out together, always see each other. Me and Doc always speak. There’s interest there, but there was no verbal agreement or anything, just hearing each other out. He expressed his interest. I expressed my interest.
“It’s not basketball-wise that needs to be discussed, it’s the front office and my agent that needs to communicate and go from there.”
When asked his most important priority, Lee said: “I want to win. I got a taste of the playoffs and going all the way to the Finals my rookie year [with Orlando in 2009]. I want to get back there. Boston, everybody knows their record and what they’ve accomplished over the years especially with Doc and having KG [Kevin Garnett] and Paul [Pierce], [Rajon] Rondo’s still there. So that’s a team I feel will win and continue to win. That’s one factor in the decision.”
Lee, 26, has played four NBA seasons after a storied career at Western Kentucky. He was dealt after his rookie season in Orlando to New Jersey in the Vince Carter trade and then sent to Houston in a four-team deal two years ago. He’s a career 38.6 percent 3-point shooter and has come off the bench in 152 of his 287 career games.
He said he’s aware the best way to get to Boston is by trade.
“You know Houston and [general manager] Daryl Morey, he loves draft picks, that’s one thing that you can do, a sign-and-trade,” Lee said. “With having Houston loving draft picks and Boston not having money to be able to pay a player, that could be an option for both teams.”
Lee said more than eight teams are interested in him, including the Mavericks.
First-round pick Jared Sullinger scored 20 points, including 14 in the second half, as the Celtics edged the Thunder, 73-65. Sullinger looked more comfortable in the second half, scoring 9 straight points in one stretch. Boston trailed by as many as 8 after the break, but Sullinger sparked a 21-7 run to take control.
E’Twaun Moore, playing mostly point guard, added 16 points and four assists and first-round pick Fab Melo played 14 minutes and finished with 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots.
Playing mostly power forward and center, Sullinger displayed an array of moves, including a dribble-drive spin move and finish. He also drained a 3-pointer and canned all seven of his free throws.
“I didn’t want to come into the game and think, ‘It’s all about me,’ ” Sullinger said. “Playing all my life where everything goes through you, I didn’t want to be like that today because I’ve got some teammates that can really play. I was trying to feel it out in the first half, in the second half I decided to try to step up and score the basketball.”
Rivers was on hand and gave his assistant, Tyronn Lue, a hard time in his coaching debut. Lue wore a black and gray Celtics golf shirt and gray slacks.
“Maybe now [since you got your first win] you can wear some shorts,” Rivers joked to Lue.
“[Assistant coach Mike] Longabardi called me ‘Phil Jackson’ because I wouldn’t call a timeout,” Lue said. “I talk a lot of stuff [with the veteran players], but during the course of the game, I just want the guys to play free, have fun, and play their game. If you’re doing too much, I’ll let you know. So I don’t want to be up yelling. Just let the guys play.”