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Is David Lee The Power Forward Your Team Needs?

A lot of money has been spent on NBA free agents already and once Kevin Durant announces his decision on the 4th of July, what’s left of the big money should be gone fairly quickly. Then, finally, teams like the Toronto Raptors who have been waiting patiently on the sidelines because they had to take care of their own big name free agent and/or had little salary cap space to begin with can start to pick over what’s left.

This is phase two of the annual free agent frenzy. The stage where salaries revert back to what seems reasonable or even cheap by the standards of the first few days of the “July Moratorium.”

At this point in free agency, if you are looking for a proven power forward that can start or provide instant offense off the bench, the 33-year-old two-time All-Star who has played on three different teams in the past two years David Lee could be your guy.

Lee averaged 18 points and 10 boards in his first four seasons in Golden State before injuries cost him his starting job and Draymond Green exploded onto the scene. Since then he’s become a bench player with the Warriors, then Boston and finally in Dallas where he helped the Mavericks turn around a sliding season and hang onto a playoff spot.

Earl K. Sneed on quotes coach Rick Carlisle,

“You know, we acquired David Lee two months ago. I don’t remember the exact date, but when you acquire a player like that that’s been a two-time All-Star and has been in some successful organizations, you know, you want him to have a great experience,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle explained during his exit interview last month. “He did, and he helped us get to the playoffs. We wouldn’t have got to the playoffs without David Lee, and the word spreads. You know, veterans like him know other veterans, and the word gets out that Dallas is a high-level organization. And we take great pride in that.”

Lee’s productivity didn’t falter in a reduced role. He was still averaging a solid double-double on a per 36 minute basis because, for all of Lee’s shortcomings, he can still rebound and score.

Akshay Mirchandani on Mavs Moneyball writes,

Enter Lee. He averaged 8.5 points and 7.0 rebounds with the Mavericks. Those aren’t flashy numbers, but he provided rebounding and a solid inside offensive presence off the bench that the Mavs didn’t have before his arrival.

Almost immediately, Lee became a reliable scorer for Dallas, scoring double digits in 11 of the 25 regular season games he played with the Mavericks.

Obviously Lee isn’t the long term fix to anyone’s basketball program, but he can still do what he’s always done. A career 53.3 percent shooter from the field that isn’t falling off and a superior offensive and defensive rebounder. If your team needs scoring and rebounding off the bench, he can still fill the gap better than most.

Lee told Stefan Bondy of the NY Daily News at the end of March he looking forward to free agency.

“I think I’ll have some good choices. And I look forward to playing three or four more years,” said Lee. “I feel like right now my body feels as healthy as ever. And I think going down in weight has made me feel a lot better and a lot more active. I feel as active as I was early in my career.”

On the right team in the right situation, Lee could be the power forward your NBA team needs for next season and it shouldn’t break the bank to sign him.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.