David Lee Almost Joined The Jazz At Trade Deadline

Mar 4, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center John Henson (31) battles against Golden State Warriors forward David Lee (10) during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Spence Checketts reported today that David Lee was almost a Utah Jazzman at the 2015 NBA trade deadline.

He reiterated the report on the local afternoon sports talk radio show on 1280/97.5 The Zone, where he’s the co-host of The Big Show weekdays from 3-6 p.m., as well as a pre, half and postgame radio host for Utah Jazz games.

Checketts said he received a text earlier in the day from a source with the Jazz that said Utah was close to acquiring the Golden State Warriors’ David Lee.

With solid sources inside the Utah Jazz franchise, Spence Checketts grew up around the Utah Jazz; his dad, Dave Checketts, was the youngest ever President and General Manager of an NBA team at the age of 28, in 1983.  

While he didn’t elaborate, the assumption has to be the key cog offered by Utah was Enes Kanter, a player Radio Voice of the Utah Jazz, David Locke, once compared to David Lee.

I took a look at Enes Kanter’s career comps today. I chose four players: Carlos Boozer, Al Jefferson, David West and David Lee. I was looking for similarly sized and similarly athletic players. Kanter entered the league much younger than any of these comps.

It’s interesting when you look at these comps how many more minutes Kanter has played than his comparables. Also, it’s interesting that, offensively, he has performed every bit as well as theses players. Remember: West was 23 and Lee was 22.

Locked on Jazz, March 13, 2014

Neither David Lee nor Enes Kanter are known for their defensive prowess, while both are considered excellent offensive players. The Warriors are paying David Lee $15,012,000 this season and is on the hook for $15,493,680 next year. His contract expires after the 2015-16 NBA season.

That should sound familiar to Utah Jazz fans. The Utah Jazz and Golden State Warriors are accustomed trade partners, in 2013 the Jazz helping the Warriors clear cap space by taking on the expiring contracts of Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush, whose contracts totaled at the time $23,164,000.

David Lee hasn’t been himself this season averaging only 8.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists after three straight years of at least 18 points and 9 rebounds. He’s become dead weight, a liability to Warriors GM Bob Myers, who was looking to unload the floundering Lee for a run at the title this year.

Yahoo! Sports NBA Insider Marc Spears told Murph and Mac Thursday morning that the Warriors’ front office has one more move to make to shore-up Golden State’s already deep roster. Do you agree that the Warriors should add another backup big man?

680/1080 KNBR, January 8, 2015


The hangup in getting a deal done here would have to be the difference between the salaries of David Lee and Enes Kanter. The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement states:

Taxpaying teams can acquire no more than 125 percent plus $100,000 of the salaries they trade away (same as 2005 CBA). Non-taxpaying teams (based on their post-trade salary level) can acquire up to the lesser of 150 percent plus $100,000, or 100 percent plus $5 million of the salaries they trade away. The cash a team pays or receives in trade is limited to $3 million annually.


What that means is, the contract value between David Lee and Enes Kanter is just too far apart to make a straight swap — even with relaxed rules in the current iteration of the NBA CBA — meaning there would had to have been at least one more player involved in a trade, which could also have been another team or teams’ assets.

The Warriors, after re-signing Brandon Rush after the Jazz took him in the 2013 blockbuster — then letting the locker room/Twitter grumbler walk away — are once again trying to get rid of him. Rush isn’t contributing anything since returning from injury, and has a tendency to rock the boat under his breath.

To make a trade work, the Warriors needed another trade partner, since the Jazz were likely reluctant to give up another young asset (all the Jazz’s assets are young), and have cashed in one of two first round picks acquired in previous dealings with Myers already.

The first of two incoming Jazz first round draft picks from Golden State turned into Rodney Hood in the summer of 2014, with another first round’er yet to come from the Warriors in 2017, with a 2016 second round’er on tap as well.

While teams that work the phones together often tend to continue doing so, in this case, the gap in salaries was just too enormous, coupled with no takers willing to sweeten a deal in a multi-team trade for dead weight.

There was a time David Lee was coveted by Utah Jazz fans and brass, via trade or free agency. The current Jazz team is probably better off having found talks not come to fruition in this particular case.