Lee logged his second consecutive DNP -- Coach's Decision during Wednesday's loss to the Detroit Pistons. The 32-year-old Lee, acquired via trade this offseason, is averaging 7.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists over 15.7 minutes per game in 29 appearances with the Celtics.
Boston added Lee and Amir Johnson this offseason to a young frontcourt that featured Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, and Tyler Zeller. What's more, the Celtics played some of their best basketball last season while leaning on smaller lineups that often featured Jae Crowder and Jonas Jerebko at the power forward spot.
"Coach [Brad Stevens] came to me and said we’re going to try and go small at the 4, which means [more playing time for] Kelly and Jonas," Lee said. "That’s why Sully has been out of the starting lineup. That was his theory on some changes he wanted to make after us losing a couple of games, so I told him while I disagree with it, I also told him he’s the coach and can choose to do that."
Lee's advanced numbers have not been good for a Boston the team that owns a net rating of minus-2.6 points per 100 possessions when he's on the court. While Lee stressed this situation is different from last season, when the Golden State Warriors asked him to take a backup role behind Draymond Green, he pledged to accept it for now.
"I can either choose to be pissed off or I can choose to keep working hard, and I’m going to keep working hard," Lee said.
"Even last year I didn’t accept that, and last year was way different. It was more of an injury-based thing where I got injured to start the year and came back. This situation is a bit more frustrating, and by no means am I accepting of the situation, and that’s the first thing that I told Brad. He’s the coach, the one making the decisions. I also trust my teammates and want what’s best for the team. So we’re going to have to see how this plays out. The most important thing is making sure the Celtics get a W in the win column. We’ve been up and down as a team, so coach is trying to find some consistency."
Lee said that he hasn't pondered a trade request quite yet.
"We'll see moving forward how permanent this is," Lee said. "Obviously, I’m very confident I can help a team win. I hope that’s the Boston Celtics. So, no, I haven’t spoken about that. I haven’t really thought about that yet. Right now it’s about continuing to be ready, and if that was talked about it would be between my agent, the Celtics and other teams."
Stevens said that either Lee or Tyler Zeller, who both logged DNPs Wednesday, would see time on Thursday night against the Chicago Bulls. Zeller, who has endured a string of DNPs earlier in the season, had appeared in six of Boston's last seven games before sitting against the Pistons.
"The rotation is something we reassess after every game," Stevens said. "Tyler Zeller has had a few DNPs and got one [Wednesday]. One of those two guys will certainly play [Thursday] night. Chicago is a much bigger team."