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?

Tags: Courtney Lee Portland Trail Blazers

  • Billy Hoyle

    I like it, but I think NJ really wants to make the Lee thing work since he was their “major” acquisition in the Vince Carter deal

    • SJ

      Good point, it would be quick to give up on Lee so quickly. That being said he got a ton of opportunities to produce and never really got into a rhythm. In his defense, they were awful. In Orlando he didn’t have to carry as much of a load and broke out pretty fast so who knows.

  • Joemo

    More to the point…does acquiring Courtney Lee duplicate the Wes Matthews acquisition?

    • SJ

      Yes and no. They have a similar skill-set except statistically speaking Matthews is more of an all-around guy and he moves better without the ball with 22% of his offense coming off cuts or off non pick and roll screens. I feel you could play them together.

  • Raaaaaaaandy

    So Matthews would now be our fulltime backup to Nic (and competing with Babbit for minutes)? I don’t like that, I like Matthews coming in for Roy alot more than Lee. And we don’t need a defensive wing (Lee) when we just signed Matthews for that. My point is, We paid big money to Matthews so he should amost be guaranteed alot of minutes on a nightly basis backing up our All-Star. We didn’t give him all that money to compete for minutes, right?

    • SJ

      Good points, except I’m pretty sure we gave him all that money so the Jazz wouldn’t match since $9 million of it comes in the first year. He’s going to have to compete for minutes regardless, but he’s definitely got 6th man written all over it. I’ve never been a huge fan of ‘guaranteeing’ minutes, especially with the depth Portland has, Nate can afford to give it to the guys who work best together. I do understand your point though.

      I disagree with not needing a defensive wing, you can never have enough good defensive players on a team. Teams would struggle with Lee, Matthews and Camby out there. Who would you rather see guarding a tough perimeter scorer, Lee or Rudy?

  • zach


    I was figuring out somebody to trade for rudy came across the nets and BAM forgot about C. LEE

    Its a GREAT deal because lee is almost an 87% foul line shooter and had a better 3 point percentage than rudy,outlaw is on the nets and rudy wanted to play for the knicks, but only for the city! so he could live in new york. GLAD TO SEE that someone else agrees this trade could work

    who knows maybe Upgrading and trading Rudy and bayless are the pieces the blazers are missing, our backups were kinda terrible last season :/

  • Bill

    That is the best trade idea I have heard of for Rudy (that would actually make sense for the other team) all summer. Bang on the Blazer brass and make it happen.

  • Pingback: What about Courtney Lee? – Rip City Project » Rudy, Portland, Courtney, Nets, Orlando, Matthews » casestudys.info