David Lee, the former all-star forward, has agreed to a two-year deal worth $3.2 million with the San Antonio Spurs, per several reports.
Lee, a member of Golden State Warriors’ championship-winning team in 2014-15, has struggled to find a permanent home in the final stage in his career. After being traded to the Boston Celtics last offseason, Lee received a buyout and was sent to Dallas Mavericks during the trade deadline.
David Lee can still contribute
Despite his major dip in production, Lee is still a valuable player off the bench. During his two-month stint with the Mavericks, Lee averaged 8.5 points and 7 rebounds in 17.3 minutes per game, mostly as a small-ball center in coach Rick Carlisle’s second unit.
Mark Bartelstein, Lee’s agent, told ESPN that the veteran forward wanted to play under Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “We’ve been talking to the Spurs for quite a while. There’s a number of places he could have gone and done better economically, but Pop and R.C. (coach Gregg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford) worked hard to let David know how valuable they thought he could be to their team,” Bartelstein said on Thursday.
Lee’s agent also confirmed that the second year of the contract has a player option.
Earlier in the summer, there were reports that Lee was considering a return to the Warriors, especially after the Oakland-based franchise was forced to let go of Festus Ezeli, Andrew Bogut and Marreese Speights after signing Kevin Durant to a maximum contract.
The Warriors added David West and Zaza Pachulia in free agency but are still relatively thin in their front court rotation. However, talks between Lee and Warriors never progressed.
Aftermath of Duncan’s retirement
The Spurs, still reeling from Tim Duncan’s retirement, is hoping for new acquisitions Pau Gasol and Lee to fill the void in the front court. While neither player possesses Duncan’s defensive prowess, they will bring instant production on the offensive end.
According to ESPN’s forecast, San Antonio are projected to be the second seed next season. However, a lot of that would depend of how the team recuperates from Duncan’s retirement. While LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard are proven stars, the team could likely struggle to defend the paint; Gasol and Lee have never been known for their rim protection.
David Lee is expected to average around 15-20 minutes off the bench for the Spurs.