When Lee was last a free agent in 2010, the Celtics made an offer limited by cap space and ultimately Lee signed a lucrative offer with Golden State. He was under no illusions that they were instantly going to contend for a title.
In his first year with the team, Golden State went 36-46 which was right in line with the recent past. At that point in time, their last season with a winning record was the ‘93-’94, which ended with a first round playoff elimination. Despite season after season of losing, the Warriors had begun the process of turning around the ship. They were very active in the trade market, making the best use of their draft picks, and were amassing assets to make big trades when opportunities presented themselves.
Does any of this sound familiar?
While the Celtics are no favorite to win the 2015-16 NBA Title, there are some similarities to the young Warriors team that Lee found himself a part of back in 2010. In his second season with the Warriors, Lee lead the team to 23 wins on a lockout shortened schedule. The next season, their win total jumped to 40. In the first season of the Brad Stevens era in Boston, the Celtics won 25 games and also jumped to 40 wins a season later.
These similarities aren’t lost on anyone, especially David Lee who was quick to draw some parallels, as reported by the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy.
“It was really a two-year process in starting to get guys in there,” Lee said of his first season with Golden State. “The big step was getting into the playoffs my third year there. Nobody said we were a playoff-caliber team in the West and that’s the same thing these guys did last year. This team is about where we were in Year 3, where we made the playoffs and then lost in the second round. We were really a fringe playoff team, a six or eight (seed), and then we made some additions the next year.
When the rebuild began in Boston during the 2013-14 season, there was barely a light at the end of the tunnel. The heart and soul of the team was gone, Rondo was still out with a torn ACL, and the highest profile acquisition was Kris Humphies. It wasn’t great.
By the end of the season, Brad Stevens had milked blood from a stone, the Celtics had a lottery pick, their eyes on the future, and a gut feeling that things were going to be ok sooner rather than later. The light at the end of the tunnel was blinding.
This too is not lost on David Lee.
“I think (the Celtics) have the same ability to make those same strides. The front office has done a good job of getting the right guys in here.”
Boston is still lacking a superstar, there is no denying that. The aforementioned light at the end of the tunnel is that the right pieces are aligning on Causeway street and challenging the assumption that in the NBA you need at least three big name players to contend.
Banner 18 may not be in the cards in 2015-16, but vast improvement is. If nothing else, Boston now has a guy in Lee who has been an integral part of a franchise turnaround. Hopefully he’s part of the solution in Boston that will point the ship in the right direction.
Follow Padraic O'Connor on Twitter @padraic_oconnor
Photo: Garrett Ellwood; Getty Images Padraic O'Connor 10/12/2015 08:00:00 AM Tweet Edit