COJ: A conversation about D-Lee, plus Kevin Freakin' Garnett

Mailin It In w/ Bobby Manning

MattDotRich: Bobby, David Lee isn't happy about his playing time and I'm not sure there's an easy solve here. What do you think we should do w/ the former all star?

Bobby Manning: For now I'd say he's going to have to put up with it. I'm a Lee fan and loved the addition in exchange for Gerald Wallace over the summer. I felt like Wallace's veteran presence played an important role on those young 13/14 and 14/15 C's teams, but the fact that he couldn't play limits how effective you can lead. Lee can play, as he has shown averaging 6.6 ppg and 4.0 rpg in a very small allocation of 15 minutes per game. I think you'd see him do more offensively with more time, but the trouble is that the C's have fixated on being a strong defensive team in 15-16. He may be their worst, especially when you look at the poor ratings on both ends that one's with Lee have suffered from. This team is loaded with bigs and as long as Lee is getting outplayed by the others on the defensive end he's going to see limited minutes. They're earned here.

So I ask you Matt, what should the C's look at doing with Lee if he starts making bigger stinks about minutes? His contract isn't particularly easy to move. I still feel like a big reason he's here is to make a potential trade for a significant addition possible $-wise, but those don't come along overnight.

MDR: I think you hit the nail on the head, Bobby - to quote the critically acclaimed Robert Tepper song, there's "No Easy Way Out."

His contract makes it so that we can't trade him, or cut him. Because it's too big for a contender to be able to take on, but provides the right kind of flexibility for a trade if a superstar like DeMarcus Cousins so we can't cut him. Beauties in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.

So I think Danny has to go to him and explain the bind they're in, and promise him a quick and easy buy out if we can't trade him by the deadline in exchange for a few months of courtesy.

I guess I'll ask the same question back to you - what's the solution.

BM: Keep on sailing sounds like the solution to me, I can understand Lee's frustrations since Golden State DID send him here out of courtesy so he could be in a place where he can play. If there's one thing Brad Stevens has shown this season it's that he's willing to adapt on the fly. There have certainly been games where he has called on Lee for a little extra support and it has played relatively well for both sides in those spots. Every big on this team has had issues with consistency this season making a log jam of bodies even more of a predicament. I can't imagine Tyler Zeller and Jonas Jerebko are too thrilled with how the situation played out, that facial hair grows on Zeller like rust on an unused lawn mower. But you never know, injuries happen and if someone goes down for any length of time Lee could go from being an afterthought as he currently is to being an important member of the rotation. The fact is that this team is a little overloaded right now. There hasn't been any room for RJ Hunter, Terry Rozier, James Young, and Jordan Mickey to establish any kind of role on the team either.

MDR: Ya, that might be the other way Lee could see a potential increase; moving Zeller. Poor Tyler deserves better, he's a good rotational player but there's just no real future for him here and that could open some minutes up for Jordan Mickey (whose apparently been killing it in Portland) as well.

What do you think the Celtics could get for Zeller?

BM: Seeing as Zeller is an expiring contract they'd be hard pressed to even get a 2nd round pick in my eyes. But you never know, teams get desperate at deadline time. Both sellers and buyers feel pressed to move. You saw the Thunder go all in on Enes Kanter last year and the Suns end up dumping Isaiah Thomas to Boston for scraps last year. It's pure chaos. It really is amazing how much of a non-factor Zeller has become in Boston. He played 82 strong games a year ago and now looks useless in the little amount of time we've seen him. Why do you think he's been phased out?

MDR: Maybe I'm being too optimistic, but I think he could net a late first round pick. He's a 7 footer who can run and chew gum, and he's on a decent contract. As far as why he's been phased out, I think he's got some of the same problems Lee has - he's just that much too slow footed to be relied on in small ball lineups so it limits the times he can be on the curt.

Am I off here?

BM: You could be right. The front-court situation is extremely complicated and you know Stevens is rolling off the numbers. Amir Johnson and Jared Sullinger have been analytical studs so far. Kelly Olynyk, as much as I despise his overall game, has put up stunning defensive metrics if you've seen them. In fact if you look at the "defensive win shares" leaders on the team, it lines up exactly with the amount of minutes they've received.

Jared Sullinger (1.0/501)
Amir Johnson (0.8/472)
Kelly Olynyk (0.6/327)
David Lee (0.4/293)
Jonas Jerebko (0.4/274)
Tyler Zeller (0.1/113)

Coincidence? Probably not. Defense has been this team's focus. That's why they've missed Smart so much overall.

Start Your Morning Off With... Kevin Garnett w/ my highlight of the year