What about Courtney Lee?

(Note: There’s no rumors of a deal between Portland and New Jersey, not even whispers, this is all hypothetical. Have to love the dog days of summer)

Late last night as I was tinkering around with the Trade Machine and seeing how little options Portland has of a straight-up deal for Rudy Fernandez. Seriously, this post was *this close* to being about JaVale McGee. Then all of a sudden, I tripped on something that I liked. It was a deal that sent Rudy to the New Jersey Nets for Courtney Lee.

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I even took it to twitter and the fans had my back. Although, to be honest, I think I could say ‘Hey let’s trade Rudy for the girl from Taken who runs really funny’ and people would agree with me. As far as Rudy was concerned I’m sure he’d be happy to go to New Jersey. They were rumored to be one of his preferred destinations early on. Not to mention their super dope ownership, old buddy Travis Outlaw and the potential to start with only Anthony Morrow to fight off at the 2.

I still wasn’t sure about Lee, considering I erased him and the entire Nets 09-10 season from my brain in February. So I went to twitter and got a little help from Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post who brought perspective from Lee’s days in Orlando. His responses are in bold.:

Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought when Lee was in ORL he was a strong defender with a decent shot who could attack?

SVG called him the team’s best wing defender, yeah. Didn’t do much driving. He’s a 5th option, maybe 4th, at best on offense

Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought when Lee was in ORL he was a strong defender with a decent shot who could attack?

Yeah. Within the context of POR’s offense, Lee might be better overall than Rudy, because he’s a better defender than Rudy.

Lee would bring perimeter defense to the Blazers, something Portland has been struggling with over the past two years. It’s Lee’s defensive ability that would make this trade work. It’s hard to justify trading your best 3-point shooter for someone who shot 33% from the three point line last year, but hear me out. Off the bench you bring in Matthews, Lee and Bayless. That’s three pretty athletic players who can bring energy and raise a little havoc. Also, you have Lee and Matthews who are much better defenders than Rudy and Martell. With Camby protecting their back they could be even more aggressive. This is the same Courtney Lee that went toe-to-toe with Kobe Bryant a couple years back.

Offensively, that second unit might have an issue. Lee isn’t much of a creator, but he’s a decent spot up shooter for everyone but the Nets (40% in Orlando). According to Synergy Sports, Lee connected on 39.8% of his ‘Spot-Up’ opportunities last year. His biggest downfall was that a lot of Isolation sets were being run for him, accoring to Synergy about 15.8% of his offense was isos and he only scored 36.2% for the time (42-for-116) whereas Rudy scored on 30.6% of his isolations (only 62). In Portland…there would be no iso. He would sit in the corner and take whatever was given to him. So he’d be doing what Rudy does for the most part except he’d be better at defense….that sounds good right?

Interestingly enough, in the 09-10 season Lee and Rudy are just about a wash offensively. According to Synergy, Lee is much better in the Pick and Roll and Transition, connecting on an awesome 65.5% of transition opportunities (76-116). Would he get the same chances in Portland? Who knows, but you’d think Nate would let that second unit run.

The big question about this trade is could that second unit score points? Bayless would be freed to attack, but would Matthews and Lee be able to create for themselves? With Dante/Jeff at the 4 and Camby at the 5, it seems like a really strong defensive unit that might struggle to score. Then again, maybe they would run. It’s all hypothetical anyways.

So my question Blazer fans: what do you think about Courtney Lee?

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