David Lee has fit in with the Dallas Mavericks so well so fast it seems like he’s been here all season.
In his first six games with the Mavs, Lee has already recorded three double-doubles.
So why is the former Boston Celtics/Golden State Warriors player been so successful so quickly in his new surroundings?
“There’s an opportunity here,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Boston was overloaded with younger guys and they made a conscious decision to play their younger guys.
“At Golden State, injuries are what led to him being out a long time — and Draymond Green’s rise.”
We sold him on the opportunity here and I really believe he could be at least a 20-minute a game player. We need him and he’s helped us.
Rick Carlisle on David Lee
A center and power forward, Lee won a world title with the Warriors last season and was traded to the Celtics on July 27. But with Boston leaning more toward its younger players, Lee only played 30 games for the Celtics before he was waived and signed a $2.1 million free agent contract with the Mavs on Feb. 22.
“We sold him on the opportunity here and I really believe he could be at least a 20-minute a game player,” Carlisle said. “We need him and he’s helped us.”
Carlisle, though, wouldn’t go as far as to say Lee would replace Zaza Pachulia as the Mavs’ starting center. Because Lee is 6-foot-9 and 245 pounds, Carlisle knows the Mavs need Pachulia’s 6-11, 275-pound frame in the middle to battle some of the NBA’s beefier players.
“It’s going to depend game-to-game on what’s happening, if he’s playing well, if he’s playing effectively,” Carlisle said. “He’s a different dimension than we’ve had here all year, and he’s helping us, which I really believed he was going to do when we signed him.
“I think it’s important that Pachulia is starting against those big bruisers to give us a physical presence in there,” Carlisle said. “And from there, there are a lot of ways we can adjust if we need to adjust, but it’s pretty clear than we have a bit of an eclectic group.”
Lee said that he’s had his battles against Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6-11, 265), particularly in the first round of the 2014 playoffs.
“I had to play against him plenty at Golden State in the playoffs in a seven-game series,” Lee said. “I had to guard him at the center spot, so I’ve played him plenty.
“He’s somewhat limited in what he can do, but what he can do he can do very, very well with the best of them. Defensively as a shot-blocker and offensively diving to the basket and finishing around the rim, he’s as good as they get at those things.”
In his six games with the Mavs, Lee is averaging 7.8 points and 5.1 rebounds in 16.4 minutes per contest.
Hockey & hoops
After hosting Detroit on Wednesday, the Mavs’ home game Saturday against the Indiana Pacers will be part of an NBA/NHL American Airlines Center doubleheader.
The Mavs will host the Pacers at 1 p.m., then the hardwood floor comes up and the ice goes down as the Dallas Stars entertain the St. Louis Blues at 8 p.m.