When I first read about the trade on Twitter at Jason's Deli on my lunch break, I hated it. I won't lie, I freaking hated it. It didn't last long, but I wasn't at all happy with it. I thought we could have gotten more and was still in belief that Trevor Ariza could be a large piece of the puzzle in Houston. I mean, for Courtney Lee? That's it? Really?
It didn't take long for me to calm down. And I am quite in favor of the trade now. And I was so only moments from that initial reaction.
I know it has only been two preseason games, but that is sample size enough for me to see what Courtney Lee can bring to this team. And it got me to thinking about how for all of those two minutes, I was upset when the Rockets traded Trevor Ariza for him. Two long, and obviously delusional minutes. And the truth is that I wasn't the only one. But by the time my lunch break was over, I was 100% in support of the trade and explained why. But even then, it was only a guess to how Courtney Lee would fit with this team. A lot of players and teams look good on paper, but you never know if they'll fit within your scheme or the rest of the roster. And while he hasn't looked mind-blowing in either of these games yet, in comparison to Trevor Ariza...well, he kind of does.
More after the jump...
Like I've said in the past, I'm not a stats guy. So I'm not going to throw percentages or shot charts at you. I leave that kind of heavy lifting to Tom. Nor will I steal Dave's thunder by comparing the scenario to a South Park episode. No, all I can do is tell you what I have seen from Courtney Lee in these first two games to believe this trade will end up being a steal.
First, you have to discredit the fact that Chris Paul is going to make Trevor Ariza look better. Don't fall for that fool's gold. CP3 makes a lot of talentless hacks look better. Anyone remember Tyson Chandler? Exactly. We know how Ariza performed when given the reins. He didn't. It was that simple. His shooting percentage was atrocious, his shot selection worse and his attitude...well, he just never seemed like he wanted to be here. He always had that vacant and emotionless look on his face. Much like any of you would have sitting in your cubicle making 20k per year. He never showed any leadership or a desire to want to win. This kind of attitude trickles down to the rest of the team and effects their attitudes as well. This is, of course, my personal opinion. We don't know how he was behind the scenes. He could have been very vocal and showed leadership. But from what I saw, his heart was never in it here.
Then you have Courtney Lee, who played in the Finals as a rookie. He looked like his future was bright in the NBA and then he was shipped to the NBA wasteland that was the 2009-2010 New Jersey Nets as a part of the Vince Carter trade. That will put a halt on anyones career. But in two preseason games with the Rockets, there are many things I see in him that I never saw in Trevor. First, and probably most importantly, he can actually dribble the damn ball. Kind of important when you are a shooting guard in the NBA. So, therefore, his ability to put the ball on the floor and slash to the basket is far superior to Ariza's ball-handling talents. Second, his contract provides quite a lot more room to work with. The $6.3 Million trade exception that was received for Trevor's contract may turn out to be more valuable than he ever was on the court in a Houston uniform. Then, you have attitude. This guy seems so happy just to be out of New Jersey (who wouldn't?) and on an actual competent team and franchise that he just looks excited to be out there. And while he may not be logging 25 minutes per game like he has thus far in preseason once the regular season starts, he can certainly step in for those minutes if needed. Be it when/if Kevin Martin misses his routine amount of games or if Coach Adelman goes small and decides to play him at the three a little. Which is being murmured a lot amongst the fans with Shane Battier seeming to have lost a step or two.
Regardless, I've heard this coaching staff and the media say much more positive things about Courtney Lee in the past two weeks than I heard in a whole year about Trevor Ariza. Sometimes, less is more. At least contractually. And I see no reason to believe that Courtney Lee won't be a serious upgrade over Ariza and just a better fit on this ball club.
So I ask again, is anyone out there still not completely satisfied with the Lee (and the trade exception) for Ariza swap?