Earlier this week, the Memphis Grizzlies and Boston Celtics agreed to a trade that sent guard Jerryd Bayless to the Celtics and guard Courtney Lee to the Grizzlies. Due to the fact that Lee has a larger contract than Bayless with $11M remaining after this season, the Grizzlies will use a $7.5M trade exception created by dealing Rudy Gay to absorb Lee’s contract. In addition, the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Ryan Gomes to the Celtics to complete the deal.
On the surface, this doesn’t appear to be much of a trade. Jerryd Bayless averages 8.1 points, 2.1 assists, 1.9 rebounds and .6 steals per game whereas Courtney Lee averages 7.4 points, 1.1 assists, 1.6 rebounds, and .7 steals per game. It seems to be a dead even swap upon looking at these numbers.
But what makes this trade significant is that Courtney Lee is shooting 44.2% from three-point range whereas Jerryd Bayless is shooting 30.1%. The Grizzlies are one of the weakest three-point shooting teams in the NBA and are in desperate need of shooters who can stretch the floor and knock down threes. That is why they signed Mike Miller this offseason. His ability to knock down threes stretches the floor and helps free up space for Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol down low.
But having only one of those guys isn’t enough, and with Quincy Pondexter going down for likely the whole season, the Grizzlies are without one of their other top three-point shooters. Since Lee is pretty much dead even with Bayless in terms of his assists, scoring, rebounding, and steals production, he becomes an upgrade with his ability to knock down the three. Now Dave Joerger has two guys to work with in Miller and Lee to help create a more reliable attack from beyond the arc.
How much of an impact Lee will make remains to be seen, but what is encouraging for Grizzlies fans is that their organization is paying attention to the needs of their roster and is finding creative ways to tinker with it and make these types of important adjustments.