DALLAS -- Two-time All-Star David Lee expects to earn a major role off the Dallas Mavericks’ bench. He says he didn’t ask to be guaranteed any minutes before committing to the Mavs for the rest of the season.
“I haven’t asked for any promises on anything but being given an opportunity, and the rest is going to be determined by how I play,” Lee told ESPN.com on Monday after his deal to spend the remainder of the season in Dallas became official. “I look forward to being able to help us on the glass and offensively and defensively fitting in with a team that’s already done pretty well this season.
“Really, I don’t believe much in them promising me a number on minutes. This is something that I’m coming in here and expect to earn playing time by playing well and helping the team get wins.”
The 6-foot-10 Lee is likely to have a role similar to that filled last season by Amar'e Stoudemire, another former All-Star who signed with the Mavs in February after receiving a buyout from his previous team. Lee has primarily played power forward throughout his 11-year career, but he said that coach Rick Carlisle informed him that he envisions most of Lee's playing time coming as a backup center.
Stoudemire averaged 10.8 points and 3.7 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per game for the Mavs behind Tyson Chandler last season. There are minutes available behind Zaza Pachulia, as the Mavs have rotated Dwight Powell, JaVale McGee and Salah Mejri as the backup big man this season.
Carlisle hopes Lee will be ready to play Wednesday night against the Thunder. They spent about two hours together in a crash-course film session and chalk talk Sunday night.
Lee, 32, is less than two years removed from averaging 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds for a 51-win Golden State Warriors team. His significant hamstring injury opened the door for Draymond Green to enter the starting lineup at the beginning of last season, and Lee had to accept a significantly reduced role for the eventual champions after Green established himself as a unique rising star.
Lee, who made a significant contribution as a small-ball center off the bench in the NBA Finals after playing sparingly most of the season, requested a trade over the summer in hopes of playing a larger role again. The Warriors traded him to the Boston Celtics, but Lee got caught up in another frontcourt logjam. He played in only 30 games for the Celtics, including just two in 2016.
However, Lee’s per-36 minute production the past two seasons has been near his career norms (16.8 points, 10.8 rebounds). The Mavs see him as a savvy veteran whose scoring, rebounding and passing can provide an upgrade for their second unit.
“They’ve had some success here, so I’m not coming in here trying to reinvent the wheel for them, but obviously I have confidence and I’m in great shape right now,” Lee said. “[Last season] in Golden State, unfortunately I had some injury problems and wasn’t able to play a whole lot until the end of the year and I was able to help us win a championship. This year in Boston, for a variety of factors, things weren’t able to work out there. But I think I’m in wonderful shape right now and am really coming in here expecting to make an impact and to help this team win games.
“I told them I’m not really too worried about them promising me anything as much as I’m in here to show what I can do and try to help this team as much as possible. My playing time will reflect that. We’ll see what happens.”