Leadership: ”a process of social influence in which a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”, so says Wikipedia. To me, leadership has always been about showing and telling.
Power Forward David Lee was officially introduced by the Boston Celtics on Monday after it was announced he was dealt to the green team weeks ago on July 7. The deal sent back Gerald Wallace and Chris Babb to Golden State as a form of tax relief.
With Wallace off to California, or home should the team waive him, Lee has now been pressed into that special role of leader at 32 years old on the NBA’s 4th youngest team by average age.
Wallace was mostly known for cracking bench jokes and his behind the scenes influence, as well as his $10 million dead contract, in his time with the C’s. While the team often lauded him as a great leader to a young post-Big 3 Celtics team, he was never able to fit the bill of the “showing” aspect of leadership.
Hampered by a career full of relentless play that led to a variety of injuries, Wallace only appeared in 90 games over two seasons in Boston. In about 18 minutes per game he would only average a lowly 3.7 points and 1.7 rebounds.
Simply put, Wallace did plenty of telling but not enough showing in his time with Boston. Lee will have a chance to do both with the 2015-16 squad.
"I talked to coach (Brad Stevens) and Danny (Ainge), and they really wanted me here. We almost got it done the last time in free agency. This is a place I’ve always thought about, and of course with the hometown support it’s a place that loves its basketball. A great place to play. I heard there was interest and I was interested right back." David Lee on the process the brought him to Boston.
It’s currently unclear what “common task” the C’s are aiming at next year, especially without the splash they coveted in the draft or free agency this year. The team didn't change all too much, so it would appear that they intend to go into this season competing for a playoff spot in the East once again.
In the leadership role, Lee will have a very important job in returning to the playoffs a more legitimate team than the one that got swept away by Cleveland last year. An All-Star two years ago, Lee brings a variety of skills to the C’s; from a nice in-and-out scoring ability to high level rebounding as well as excellent passing skills. He's an active playmaker at the PF position.
Lee isn’t perfect, he’s certainly a very low-level defender, and in no way was he a splash landing star level player that the C's would desire. But with his experience and skill-set, Lee very well may be the best player the team has going into this year.
Plenty of mystery surrounds him coming off a year where the Warriors simply didn't need him in their up-tempo, Alvin Gentry-led offense that saw Draymond Green emerge as a high level two-way player. But while Lee was never the face of the Warriors, especially on their way to the championship last year, he did have a heavy hand in their rise to greatness from a scrappy young team much like the one in Boston right now.
Lee joined that team in 2010 on a 6-year, $80 million deal that will again pay him roughly $15M this year. Passing up offers from contenders, including the Celtics off their Finals loss, he chose the young Warriors for both money reasons and to help a growing team reach the next level.
The signing was a hit, over his first four seasons Lee averaged 18.2 PPG 10.0 RPG and 3.0 APG while shooting 51% as a starting PF. His efforts helped the team reach the playoffs for the first time since 2007 in 2013, before becoming a West contender in 2014.
When the Warriors blazed to a 22-3 start last year with Lee injured, though, his role greatly diminished upon his return. A valuable piece to their rise to prominence from the dirt, Lee became nothing more than a side piece on their way to a championship. He played just 18 minutes per game, which decreased to 8 once the playoffs arrived.
Lee's best days may be behind him, but as seen in a late 11 points in 13 minutes effort that almost pulled the team back into Game 3 of the NBA Finals, there is still something left in the tank of the 2013 All Star. His career-lows of 2015 had more to do with a reduced role rather than a regressed skill-set.
Despite complicated standing on the team, no public complaints were heard from Lee. And while he unsurprisingly requested a trade late in June, Lee and the Warriors split on good terms. The team worked hard to find him a landing spot where he could play again, while Lee showed his admiration for his time their by buying the team burritos.
|Julie Phayer, social media director of the Warriors, and other minor team employees got a Chipotle gift from David Lee upon his departure|
The minutes will come again in 2015-16 for Lee, and his variety of skills will be put to test on a team that looks as if it is going to curently build from the inside. He may not be an every night double-double threat anymore, but for the first time the young Celtics have a veteran leader to both show and tell them how to grow and win games.
In his opening Celtics presser; Lee spoke on choosing Golden State over Boston in 2010, the thrill of building from the ground up with the Warriors, and the continued admiration he has for that organization. Despite “times of frustration last year” he stated that he “loved the guys on the team. I loved what we were accomplishing on the court.”
Lee also applauded the current situation in Boston, adding “I love how they’re doing things here, and "we have a chance to do some special things.”
Whatever unique goal the Celtics commit to for 2015-16, it may not start and end with Lee, but as the team’s new leader he will most certainly play a special role in whatever it is. The Lee trade didn't shake up the Boston Celtics, but it gave them something they didn't have a year ago, a guiding force on and off the court to continue to push this young team to new levels.
Follow Bobby Manning on Twitter @RealBobManning
Photo Credit: Winslow Townson, Boston Globe Bobby Manning 7/30/2015 08:55:00 PM Tweet Edit