Boston Celtics: SummerSoiree2012
August, 9, 2012
By Greg Payne | ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- Courtney Lee was all smiles during his first public appearance as a member of the Boston Celtics on Thursday, mere hours after arriving in the city as a full-time resident.
Speaking at the team's annual Summer Soiree -- a cocktail event hosted by the Celtics and partners Xfinity and New England Baptist Hospital to help raise money for the Shamrock Foundation -- Lee expressed his enthusiasm over joining the team and his happiness to have the free-agency process behind him.
"I'm definitely excited. I got here earlier today," Lee said, prior to serving on a four-player interview panel alongside Avery Bradley, Dionte Christmas and Kris Joseph. "I've just got to find somewhere to live, and I got a chance to drive around a little bit, see the city, and see all that it has to offer. I'm excited, being back on a playoff-caliber team. Doc [Rivers is] a great coach, I get to play under him, and it's a good core group of guys here and I'm excited I get to join them."
The Celtics acquired Lee, who was an unrestricted free agent, on July 19 as part of a three-team sign-and-trade that saw Boston send E'Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson, Sean Williams and a second-round pick to Lee's former club, the Houston Rockets, and Sasha Pavlovic and two second-round picks to the Portland Trail Blazers. This all came after president of basketball operations Danny Ainge worked to try and facilitate a sign-and-trade for Jason Terry, so that the $5 million mid-level exception could be used to sign Lee. When a deal couldn't be reached with Terry's former team, the Dallas Mavericks, the C's used the mid-level on Terry and explored other creative options to try and land Lee, eventually facilitating the sign-and-trade.
Their commitment to acquiring him solidified the Celtics as Lee's No. 1 choice.
"I was definitely happy about [Boston's dedication]. The free-agency period was definitely a stressful one, but I stayed patient," said Lee, who at one point earlier in the summer acknowledged he was drawing interest from as many as eight teams. "I let my agent and I let Danny [Ainge] and those guys figure it out, and once it came to [to be], I was definitely happy and relieved about it.
"Once you see that there's interest from a team, the decision's up to you, so I had a tough decision to make. I had a lot of different offers from a lot of different teams, but the one I really wanted to come to was Boston, so I spoke with my agent, I spoke with my family. It was a decision that I had to take less money to come here, but in that, I'll be winning, I have a chance to play on TV, and that's what everybody wants to do -- they want to win big and have a chance to win a ring. So it was a no-brainer for me."