ORLANDO, Fla. The Celtics' pursuit of Courtney Lee will probably be decided by what most of free agency decisions boil down to: money.
For Lee to get the kind of money he's seeking in a new deal, the Celtics will have to make a sign-and-trade deal with Houston.
"Houston and (Rockets general manager) Daryl Morrey . . . he loves draft picks," Lee said. "That's one thing you can do, sign-and-trade. With Houston loving draft picks and Boston not having money to pay a player, that may be an option for both teams."
Lee, a career 10 points-per-game scorer since coming into the league four seasons ago, earned 2.2 million last season.
Chances are good -- very good -- that Lee will be seeking a contract of greater value than that.
Lee said "more than eight teams" are in the hunt with the Celtics.
Maybe the stiffest competition will come from Dallas, which has lost out on a number of its top targets including Jason Terry who reached an agreement with the Celtics.
"Dallas is a team, they're looking to make one-year deals even if they have to overpay somebody so that they have enough cap space for the next year's free agency," Lee said. "That's something that if me and my agent, if we can't come to an agreement on a multi-year deal, that's something that we'll have to look into."
It certainly hasn't hurt the C's chances that Lee has been friendly for a number of years with C's head coach Doc Rivers, as well as Rivers' basketball-playing sons Jeremiah and Austin.
Lee confirmed meeting with Doc Rivers recently, but added that it was more of a feeling-out process for both sides.
"We were just hearing each other out," Lee said. "He expressed interest. I expressed interest. So now it's just . . . it's not basketball-wise that needs to be discussed. It's the front office and my agent. They need to communicate and go from there."
That relationship is only part of the allure he has for Boston.
"I want to win," Lee said. "Boston is . . . everybody knows their record and what they've accomplished over the years, especially with Doc and having KG and Paul, Rondo's still there. That's a team I feel will win and continue to win. That's one factor in the decision."