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VOL. 129 | NO. 4 | Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Grizzlies Trade Bayless to Celtics for Lee

By DON WADE

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While the Grizzlies were flying back from Detroit Sunday after beating the Pistons, they knew that combo guard Jerryd Bayless soon would be leaving for Boston and that Celtics shooting guard Courtney Lee would be coming to Memphis in a trade.

Jerryd Bayless’ run with the Grizzlies has come to an end. The team has traded the guard to the Boston Celtics for Courtney Lee.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

“We talked on the plane,” Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley said late Monday morning, Jan. 6, before practice at FedExForum. “We knew something was going on. Trades happen. It’s part of the business and we’re all prepared for it.”

Because the trade was not yet official, Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger could not speak specifically on Monday, Jan. 6, to the team acquiring Lee. News of the trade was reported Sunday by ESPN.com, citing “sources close to the process.”

Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph likes the trade, which is believed to have other yet-to-be announced parts to it. Lee, like Randolph, hails from Indiana.

“He plays hard and he shoots the ball well,” Randolph said.

Lee, 28, is expected to bring much-needed outside shooting to Memphis. He is shooting 49.2 percent from the floor this season and 44.2 percent from 3-point range. He is averaging 7.4 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists. In his sixth season, Lee is a career 38.7 percent shooter from 3-point range.

Perhaps just as important is the message management has sent with this trade: that even as the Grizzlies sit at 15-18, in 12th place in the Western Conference standings, with much work to do to get the eighth and final playoff spot, no one is declaring the season finished.

“It’s very encouraging. (Management) seems to believe like we believe, that the season is far from over,” Conley said.

“For us to say we’re out of the playoff hunt is ludicrous,” Randolph said. “We still have a chance. We’re playing better. We should have gone 3-0 (instead of 2-1) on this road trip.”

Lee’s contract calls for about $11 million over the next two seasons after this one. Bayless is making $3.1 million this season, after which he becomes a restricted free agent.

Bayless was suffering through a horrible shooting season, making 37 percent of his shots from the floor and 28.8 percent from behind the arc. He also had failed to give the Grizzlies dependable minutes as a back-up point guard.

The Grizzlies will be Lee’s fifth team. Orlando drafted Lee in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2008 NBA Draft out of Western Kentucky. Lee averaged a career-best 12.5 points per game in the 2009-2010 season with New Jersey and twice has shot 40 percent from the 3-point range – his rookie year with the Magic and again in the 2011-2012 season with Houston when he averaged 11.4 points.

Also on Monday, center Marc Gasol (left MCL sprain) was at practice wearing a brace. Gasol has missed 20 games since Nov. 25 and the Grizzlies have gone 8-12 without him.

“He has been cleared for light on-court action,” Joerger said. “There’s no timetable for his return.”

In other recent moves, the Grizzlies have waived rookie guard Seth Curry and assigned rookie guard Jamaal Franklin to the NBA Development League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

The Grizzlies drafted Franklin in the second round (41st overall) in the 2013 NBA Draft after Franklin led San Diego State in scoring (17.0) and rebounding (9.5). With Memphis this season, Franklin averaged 1.9 points and 1.4 rebounds in 14 games.

Memphis signed Curry on Dec. 24 after Curry had averaged 21.3 points and 7.8 assists in 12 games for the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA’s Development League. He made one appearance, playing four minutes in the Grizzlies’ victory at Detroit on Sunday, Jan. 5. Had the Grizzlies kept Curry, who went undrafted out of Duke last season, they would have been obligated to pay him for the remainder of the season. Now, if he clears waivers they can sign Curry to a 10-day contract and continue to evaluate if they want to keep the younger brother of Golden State guard Stephen Curry for the rest of the season.

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