Lee happy to play under old friend Stevens

Lee happy to play under old friend Stevens
July 9, 2013, 4:00 pm
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ORLANDO, Fla. — While in high school in Indiana, Courtney Lee and some friends would play at Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse which is where he first met Brad Stevens.

The two would cross paths from time to time afterwards.

So when Lee learned that the C's were going to hire Stevens as their new head coach, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone among the Celtics returners who were happier.

Not only did the hiring of Stevens provide the Celtics with a fresh (and incredibly youthful) face on the sidelines, but for Lee it serves as a much-needed fresh start after a rocky first season in Boston.

Lee fell out of favor with former head coach Doc Rivers in the playoffs, and then found himself out of the rotation altogether despite appearing in 78 games last season.

Only Jason Terry (79), Brandon Bass (81) and Jeff Green (81) appeared in more games for the C's.

Lee is hoping that his familiarity with the former head coach at Butler will help set the tone for what he hopes will be a better season.

"I've known [Stevens] for a while," Lee said prior to the Celtics' summer league team defeating Indiana, 76-74, on Tuesday. "I used to always play at Hinkle Fieldhouse. He's seen a lot of me. I've seen a lot of him, so we built a friendship through that."

But a strong relationship doesn't necessarily equate to a strong, steady role on the court.

One of the reasons Lee was so attracted to the idea of coming to Boston in the first place was the fact that Rivers was the head coach.

Lee lives in the Orlando area during the offseason, just like Rivers, so the two developed a solid relationship well before Lee arrived in Boston.

But it wasn't enough to keep Lee in the rotation in the playoffs, as Rivers (now senior Vice President of basketball operations and head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers) decided to go with Jordan Crawford and Terrence Williams.

In the playoffs against New York, Lee did not play (coaches decision) in two games. And in the other four, he was limited to just 9.8 minutes per game compared to the 24.9 minutes he averaged during the regular season.

But Lee isn't putting too much stock or thought into the past.

Instead, he's more concerned with playing whatever role is required of him in what should be a challenging season for the Celtics.

Boston already has a trade in principle with the Brooklyn Nets that will send Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry there in exchange for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph and three future, first-round picks (2014, 2016 and 2018).

The NBA moratorium is lifted on Wednesday, but the C's deal with the Nets can't become official until Friday because one of the players in the trade (Joseph) has a contract that prevents him from being traded until Friday.

The loss of Garnett and Pierce will make for a much tougher go of things for the Celtics. But with that loss comes an opportunity for others like Lee to fill the void.

"It's difficult," Lee said of playing for a team that's rebuilding. "But it gives you more of an opportunity and more of a role to go out there and try to perform at a high level to help your team so I'm not looking at it as being anything negative. The guys that are there, we have to come together and compete as a team. I look forward to doing that."