The Warriors knew they would inevitably have to revisit finding trade partners for David Lee. With Draymond Green's restricted free agency and Harrison Barnes' contract extension situation on hand this summer, Golden State would be faced with a hefty luxury tax bill next season if they did not shed Lee's contract.
Per Marc Stein of ESPN, Lee likely won't return this summer.
Although discussions on this topic were essentially tabled by both sides until after the playoffs, sources said Wednesday that the Warriors and Bartelstein have resolved to work together to "come up with a good solution" to find a new home for Lee this offseason.
Sources said the Warriors have privately acknowledged to Lee and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, that it would be unfair to the former All-Star to ask him to continue to serve in a limited role next season after Lee accepted his diminished minutes without complaint all season.
Lee has one year, $15.4 million remaining on his six-year, $80 million contract he signed in the summer of 2010. Given the right fit, Lee can still be a productive NBA player. Just two years ago, the two-time All-Star averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds and was named to the All-NBA 3rd Team.
Golden State tried to shop David Lee at the NBA's trade deadline, but few teams were interested then. However, the Warriors and Jazz engaged in serious talks around Lee as the trade deadline approached and those could certainly resurface this summer. With more teams armed with cap space this summer, it becomes easier to facilitate a Lee trade. A host of teams including the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, and Phoenix Suns have the flexibility to acquire Lee in a deal this offseason. Additionally, the Warriors can use their 30th pick in the upcoming 2015 NBA Draft as an asset to help sweeten the pot.
Lee has done a lot for the Warriors franchise since arriving from New York five years ago — as Stein notes, being a true professional after losing your starting spot is tough, but Lee has stuck with it and been ready when called upon. As the Warriors seek to work together with Lee to find him a new home this summer, both parties can come away in a win-win situation. For David Lee, he could assume a bigger role on another team where he could better showcase his talents. Consequently, the Warriors will emerge with more financial flexibility to retain and add pieces to the championship squad.
For more thoughts on how Lee fits into the Warriors' future, check out our storystream following this rumor as it develops.