David Lee is coming off a championship season with the Warriors. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated appeared on Middays with MFB on Wednesday to talk about the Celtics and the recent acquisition of David Lee from the Warriors. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
On Tuesday, news broke that the Celtics had traded Gerald Wallace to the NBA champion Warriors for power forward David Lee. Lee is owed $15.5 million in the final year of his contract next season. Mannix said he expects Lee to contribute and be productive for the Celtics.
“I think that you’re trading a guy in Wallace that gave you nothing last year for a player in David Lee who, in my mind, can still be a pretty consistent 16- to 18-point per game scorer, eight- to 10-rebound guy. He’s arguably the most talented guy right now in that Celtics frontcourt,” Mannix said.
Mannix estimated that the addition of Lee could help the Celtics win as many as an extra three to five games. In earning the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, the team went 40-42 last season.
“You’ve now got some flexibility with those frontcourt positions. You have a guy in Lee who’s proven that he can rebound the basketball and he can score within that 15-foot area,” Mannix said. “I think the Celtics got a little more dynamic offensively with this addition of David Lee.”
Despite the improvement that Lee will bring to the roster, Mannix said that he won’t single-handedly turn the Celtics into a true contender.
“I don’t know if it moves the needle necessarily in making the Celtics any more of a playoff contender than they were last year. They still need help at the small forward position, they still need to find that true center and they still need these young guys to develop into better players in year two and year three of their respective career,” Mannix said.
The Celtics roster now includes a glut of non-rim-protecting bigs, including the likes of Lee, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller, Jonas Jerebko and Amir Johnson. The C’s also own many a combo guard, including Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart and first-round picks Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter. With an abundance of such somewhat-similar players, Mannix expects there to be more roster moves on the way.
“They’ll trade anybody. At this point, no one is safe on the roster. It’s like “Game of Thrones” out there. They’ll dump whoever they have to to make the move they want to make the moves they want to get that All-Star, tent pole type of player,” Mannix said.
While the team as currently constructed isn’t ready to compete with the top tier of the conference, Mannix was complimentary toward the way general manager Danny Ainge has handled this offseason.
“I think what Boston’s done this offseason has been smart,” he said. “They didn’t go out and overspend on fringe players. … Boston got Amir Johnson on a very team-friendly deal, they brought back Jerebko on a really team-friendly deal.”