Drafted 22nd overall out of Western Kentucky in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, Lee is the definition of an NBA journeyman, having played in New Jersey, Houston, Boston, Memphis, Charlotte and New York during his 11 years in the NBA.
Lee burst onto the scene in Orlando playing a sizable role as a rookie on a Magic team that lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games in the NBA Finals. From that moment on Lee has been a serviceable rotation player, with averages of 9.9 points and 2.7 rebounds in 28 minutes per game. Last season at 32 years old, Lee had one of his most effective seasons in his career. In 76 games the veteran played 30 minutes per night, scored 12 points and grabbed three rebounds while shooting 41 percent from three.
Lee has been hampered by a neck injury suffered before the season and missed the first 24 games. He has only played in 12 games averaging only four points in 13 minutes per night. With the Knicks embracing more of a rebuild (though they just traded KP), Lee’s role became increasingly unclear as the season wore on.
Arguably his biggest strengths are his three-point shooting, evident by his career 39 percent mark, and his versatility on the defensive end. When healthy last season, per nba.com stats, Lee shot 42 percent on catch and shoot threes. Lee also showed the propensity to move without the ball and occasionally create his own shot when the play broke down. At 6 feet, 5 inches, Lee has just enough size and quickness to match up with guards and wings, replacing some of the versatility lost in the departure of Wesley Matthews.
Outside of his shooting, Lee doesn’t bring much else to the table on the offensive end. He’s a limited playmaker best served to spot up or move without the ball, but asking him to shoulder any playmaking load is a futile ask. Lee isn’t an exceptional playmaker, but when given the chance to attack in specific situations, he can produce.
How does he fit?
If he’s healthy, Lee could almost immediately fill the void left by Matthews. He’s a gritty, experienced defender who can space the floor without clogging up the offense with too many isolation possessions. He primarily plays shooting guard, so his playing style shouldn’t conflict with Harrison Barnes or even Dorian Finney-Smith for that matter. Teams can never have too many 3&D players, especially the Mavericks who lacked those type of players even with Matthews on the roster.
Lee is owed a little north of $12 million this season and next, and unless he’s used in any future transactions, it would be wise for Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks to find use of the versatile veteran. But health is the key question, and neck injuries can plague players for a long time.