Courtney Lee not concerned about shooting slump


Courtney Lee not concerned about shooting slump

SAN ANTONIO For those NBA teams that have been feeling a bit of buyer's remorse from their offseason signings, today could not get here quick enough.

Beginning today, a number of players signed this summer are trade-eligible.

And while it's highly unlikely there will be any activity on the trade front in the next 24 hours, it's a given that teams will start to line up those players that they wouldn't mind shipping off to another team.

The Boston Celtics don't seem all that inclined to pull the trigger on any deals soon, but that won't stop the speculation surrounding Courtney Lee.

The 6-foot-5 wing acquired via sign-and-trade by the Celtics this summer from Houston, has had his struggles adjusting to his new team and more important, his new role.

His biggest challenge has been hitting 3s which was among the many reasons why the Celtics wanted to add him to the mix this season.

And while his 29.4 percent shooting from 3s this season isn't anywhere close to what he's used to, Lee isn't too concerned.


Because he's accustomed to getting off to slow starts shooting the ball, only to improve as the season progresses.

In his four NBA seasons, Lee's 3-point shooting has only dipped once after the first 20 games played.

"Shots are going to fall or not," Lee told "It just comes with repetition. I'm always in the gym getting shots up. The more I'm out there, the more I get that feel, the more the shots are going to fall. So I'm not worried about it."

The biggest adjustment for Lee has to do with getting fewer opportunities to score.

"Playing with all-stars like Rondo, Paul (Pierce) and KG, you know there aren't going to be a lot of shots available," Lee said. "But I'm OK with that. Just as long as we're winning, getting better. That's all I really care about."

Hightower on Collins: 'He makes it a lot easier for me'


Hightower on Collins: 'He makes it a lot easier for me'

FOXBORO -- Dont'a Hightower is coming off of one of the best games of his career, and he did it while running the Patriots defensive huddle without the help of his on-the-field partner at the linebacker level.

"It’s a lot more fluent having Jamie [Collins] out there," Hightower said on Wednesday. "A lot of the times we coordinate things a lot together. I usually take care of the front, he takes care of the secondary. We have our own way of doing things. Sometimes Jamie is just like, ‘No, you go ahead and you just make the calls and I’ll play off of you.’

"It helps having him out there. I mean, he does everything so he makes it a lot easier for me. Anytime I can have him out there with me, I’m 100 percent having him out there."

Hightower has plenty of experience playing without Collins, however, and Collins is accustomed to having to go without Hightower. Both had issues staying on the field in 2015, and although it's early, that trend has continued this season.

Hightower missed Weeks 2 and 3 due to a knee injury, and Collins missed Week 6 with a hip issue, meaning the duo has been available to coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia only three times this year. 

Last season the pair was active for 10 of 18 games, including both playoff games, and during a Week 5 win over the Cowboys, Hightower played just nine snaps. Collins dealt with an illness that kept him out for four games last season, and Hightower, as has been the case for much of his career, was limited by (and often played through) myriad ailments.

Both are vital to the long-term success of the Patriots defense in 2016, but it's been hit-or-miss as to when they'll be out there to play off of one another as Hightower described.

"Our linebackers, Jamie, Dont'a, they're two of the best in the league," said safety Duron Harmon following Hightower's dominating performance against the Bengals in Week 6. "Any time we can have those guys out there, they just continue to create havoc.

"They make plays, they make it easier for us, especially me. The quarterback can't look off as long when Dont'a's all in his face -- him and Jamie. Having him on the field is a plus. And when you get both of them on the field it's a double-plus."

And therein lies the issue: Having both Hightower and Collins out there together has felt like a luxury rather than the norm. 

At some point, the Patriots will have to make decisions as to what they'll do at the linebacker level for the foreseeable future. Both Hightower and Collins are slated to hit free-agency, and their durability will certainly factor into the equation when the Patriots make them offers to stick in New England.

Until then, though, both will work to be available as often as possible -- both for their team's sake and their own as they eye new deals -- where they can stress opposing offenses at a degree to which most linebacker combinations around the league can only aspire. 

"With us out there we’re able to do a lot of different things, [we have] a lot of versatility," Hightower said. "So hopefully we can both stay out there."

Hightower was removed from the Patriots injury report last week, meaning he's able to take on a full workload in practice. Collins, meanwhile, continues to be limited in practice, and his availability for Sunday's game with the Steelers is not yet known. In place of Collins, sixth-round rookie Elandon Roberts earned the bulk of the playing time against the Bengals last week. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo saw a season-high eight defensive snaps in the win.