It's my birthday today. It's a gorgeous 70+ degrees in San Francisco and yeah, it's San Francisco. But if there's something that unifies Golden State Warriors fans: it's the ongoing debate of David Lee. Not whether to trade him, to bench him, or to curtail his minutes, but just the of David Lee portion is enough to bring me back here for a couple words.
Ethan Strauss wrote about, and has indicated for a few months along with Tim Kawakami, that the Warriors should look to move Lee and how he's overrated in the eyes of management and fans. And on here and most publications, it's easy to pile on the guy because of his defense and lack of athletic finishing ability. And when the Warriors eviscerated the Denver Nuggets without Lee? Well, let's just say they jumped on the opportunity like shark sniffing a pool of blood. For good measure, too. Someone has to do it.
While I do agree with both sides, to an extent, there's probably one notion that's gone without saying. Just because it might be impossible for the Warriors to trade Lee doesn't mean that it shouldn't be something that's considered and brought up. I've seen many arguments as to what the Warriors should take back, Lamarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, LeBron James (the King seems untradeable, though) for the immeasurable talents of Lee. But if unloading Lee unleashes the direction the Warriors seem to be headed in? Who cares who they get back? As long as it's not Andris Biedrins or Monta Ellis, things should be fine. An aside: trying to flip Lee and Klay Thompson won't bring Kevin Love. The overvaluation of its own players is often a fanbase staple and it looks like some of us have done it.
The Warriors, with additions of Andre Iguodala, Jermaine O'Neal, Toney Douglas, Marreese Speights and even Kent Bazemore are tabbing players with specific qualities that fit into a set of team skills. O'Neal is a big man that can play defense, Douglas a hounder, Speights a pick-and-pop specialist, Bazemore a lockdown defender and we all know about Iguodala. So what does Lee bring? Not much of what he actually does fits into the growing direction of the team: fast, quick, strong and defensively stout. Curry doesn't fit those either but he does one that no one in history can do.
But on that same notion, there are plenty of things that Lee brings which help the team. Not many players have his ability to finish odd-looking offhand 10-footers off his left shoulder. The safety valve on the pick-and-roll opens up the floor for Stephen Curry. Sure, we can project Harrison Barnes and a healthy Andrew Bogut in the role of spacing but there's less certainty there. We know what we will get with Lee. He's safe. Like your bland but acceptable girlfriend of 8 years. Isn't it more exciting and perhaps beneficial to take a risk on that girl you met in London last weekend? All absurd analogies aside, remember Barnes wasn't who he was last postseason in the regular season, and that's something, even if Lee was the reason many say he excelled.
Lee is also remarkably durable. He's missed 20 games in the past three seasons (let's not forget the Tank Job inflating those numbers) and three games in the three seasons before that. Speights can't assume Lee's combination of passing and post play. If Bogut goes down with another injury and Festus Ezeli takes longer to come back? All of a sudden, we'd be begging for Lee's services, all the while bemoaning how Barnes and Draymond Green are getting bullied on the boards.
But again, that's a lot of projection and the ultimate blanket of comfort and safety should not preclude your team from simply getting better. That's ultimately Bob Myers call to make, especially if a team comes calling (doubtful). It's just important to note that Lee doesn't fit where the Warriors are going, but that also doesn't mean he lacks salient qualities uncommon in these parts.