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David Lee became the big Dallas needed off the bench

Before getting injured, David Lee was what the doctor ordered for the Mavs.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Looking back

What a crazy ride for David Lee.

First he's in Golden State's starting lineup to open the 2014-2015 season. Then he gets hurt, giving rise to the beast we know as Draymond Green. Lee never won back his starting spot after he got hurt, and the rest is history. The Warriors won the title with Lee as a reserve, and traded him to the Boston Celtics after the end of last season.

Then, the Celtics bought out Lee in February and the Mavericks added him to the squad. It made a ton of sense. Dallas was in no way a championship contender, but they were vying for one of the final playoff spots and needed another big man. By this point, Zaza Pachulia was beginning his downward trend, Dwight Powell faded after a nice start, JaVale McGee was a non-factor and Salah Mejri hadn't yet emerged.

Enter Lee. He averaged 8.5 points and 7.0 rebounds with the Mavericks. Those aren't flashy numbers, but he provided rebounding and a solid inside offensive presence off the bench that the Mavs didn't have before his arrival.

Almost immediately, Lee became a reliable scorer for Dallas, scoring double digits in 11 of the 25 regular season games he played with the Mavericks. He had a couple of big moments, like his four double-doubles or 20-point outing in a tough loss to the Cavaliers.

Lee's scoring decreased in April, when the Mavs decided to slow the pace down after the injury to Chandler Parsons. Lee was then a nonfactor in the playoffs after dealing with a plantar fascia injury. Dallas certainly wouldn't win that series with him, but he would've helped against Steven Adams and Enes Kanter.

We really didn't know what to expect from him, but Lee was solid for Dallas. The Mavericks changed their style in March, going small and relegating Pachulia to the bench, allowing Lee to play a huge role off the bench. That changed in April, but Lee was still solid for Dallas.

Contract status

Lee only signed with Dallas for the remainder of the 2015-2016 season. He will be free agent this summer and can sign with anyone.

Looking forward

Lee is an interesting case for the Mavericks. He's not someone Dallas is going stick a contract in front of on July 1. No, Lee is probably going to sit back and wait to see what moves other teams make, and who else could be interested in his services.

At this stage of his career, Lee is probably looking to sign with a championship contender. This isn't like when he signed with the Warriors the last time he was the free agent. Lee is a solid bench guy on a playoff or title contender.

If the Mavs falter in free agency, then there's no way Lee would consider a return to Dallas. But, if Dallas re-signs Chandler Parsons and add more talent around that, there could be a chance Lee sticks around. Lee certainly isn't perfect, but if the Mavs' front court situation is a mess again, he might be worth a look at bringing back.