The NBA's February 18 trade deadline is less than a month away and, as early as now, several reports have emerged suggesting that power forward David Lee is an option and that the Boston Celtics are actively seeking a trade partner. In a report by Basketball Insider's Steve Kyler, the Toronto Raptors is one of the teams considered to be a landing spot for Lee.
"The problem for Boston is that it's difficult to move Lee's $15.4 million contract without any long-term cap impact," Kyler wrote. "Their desire to keep their flexibility and not take on long-term money is something the Celtics have made clear to inquiring teams. One of the teams that continues to be mentioned as a possibility for Lee at the deadline is the Toronto Raptors."
Coming off from a recent NBA championship with the Golden State Warriors, the 32-year-old Lee is likely looking for a situation where he could step up his value and augment his potential earnings as he becomes a free agent this summer.
As the February deadline approaches, the Celtics forward is averaging 15.7 minutes per game and has not played in five of the team's last six games. He has been productive, but Boston simply do not have a role for him at the moment.
Moreover, another obstacle for Lee is his salary. He is making over $15 million this season, but with the Celtics looking to clear some salary cap room, they could be tempted to deal him for a draft pick, along with picking up some of the money due to Lee for the rest of the current season.
In Toronto's case, Lee's multi-million contract would be tough to work out as it would likely mean Patrick Patterson and would be heading the other way. Alternatively, a third team would be needed to help work out cap issues and facilitate any deal.
In more Celtics roster updates, power forward Amir Johnson has returned and played in Sunday's match against the Philadelphia 76ers. He missed his team's previous games due to personal reasons, but he came back in time to the starting lineup according to head coach Brad Stevens.
Johnson, 28, has been averaging 8.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 0.7 steals, in 24 minutes per game this season. In the games that he missed, fellow power forward Kelly Olynyk started in his place.
Another player who returned for Boston's tilt against Philadelphia is Jae Crowder. The small forward was apparently under the weather as he played in his team's 110-101 victory over Chicago on Friday. He was absent during the Celtics' practice on Saturday but apparently returned to full strength for Sunday's game.
With Johnson's and Crowder's help, the Boston Celtics bombarded the Philadelphia 76ers 112-92 on Sunday night. The match was rescheduled from Saturday due to heavy snowfall.