BOSTON — Courtney Lee has been traded three times in his NBA career, so he has gotten used to tuning out any rumors that pop up involving him. As he prepared to play the Pistons on Wednesday as a member of the Celtics — for now — the veteran guard insisted it isn’t that difficult for him to ignore the noise.
“It’s very easy,” Lee said. “I became a pro at it. You get used to it after a while. You go do your job. It’s part of being a professional. You get paid to play basketball, so I’ve just got to make sure I show up and have that same mentality, whether I’m here or somewhere else.”
Multiple reports on Wednesday indicated that Lee, Brandon Bass and a first-round draft pick could be headed to Houston in exchange for disgruntled center Omer Asik. Bass declined comment and Celtics coach Brad Stevens claimed to have no further insight on the reported negotiations, but Lee agreed to field questions in the locker room before the game.
He even had a little of fun with the line of questioning, which consisted of various reporters asking the same question in different ways, trying to extract more information.
“Y’all are tricky,” he laughed.
This would not be the first time Lee was on the move, but it would be the first time he switched teams mid-season. Lee began his career in Orlando, where he helped the Magic reach the 2009 NBA Finals. That summer, he was traded to New Jersey, where he had the best statistical season of his career by averaging 12.5 points per game with a 12.8 player efficiency rating. He was on the move yet again that offseason, shipped to Houston as part of a four-team trade.
Lee lasted two relatively productive seasons with the Rockets before becoming a free agent in 2012. With his pick of destinations, he settled on Doc Rivers‘ Celtics, approving a sign-and-trade for his part in a three-team deal in hopes of winning a championship with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in Boston. Needless to say, it didn’t work out that way for Lee or the Celtics, and in his second season in Boston he could be on the move again.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has not approached any of the players to discuss the rumors, Lee said, nor has Lee approached anyone in the front office to ask if the reports are true. Although Lee is playing at his most efficient level ever, averaging 7.3 points on a career-high .511 field goal percentage — which extrapolates to 15.7 points per 36 minutes — he is playing just 16.7 minutes per game, the lowest of his career by a wide margin.
Still, Lee said he is not eager to leave the Celtics. But he is ready to accept the reality of whatever happens.
“You always want to stay put,” Lee said. “But it’s the NBA. Some people live on the move, some people stay put. Whatever happens, happens.”
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