BOSTON -- It was never about the money.
Courtney Lee was one of the most in-demand free agents this offseason. When it came time to select his new team, he seriously considered options from more than five organizations.
His decision ultimately came down to one factor: Winning.
Which team is going to be better? Which team was going to be playing in June? Lee told CSNNE.com on Thursday at the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation Summer Soiree at the Boston Childrens Museum. The money was never a factor because the other teams I was weighing my options with were paying more.
Lee, 26, is entering his fifth NBA season and eager to get back in the title hunt. After reaching the 2009 NBA Finals as a rookie on the Orlando Magic, the 6-foot-5 guard has not returned to the playoffs since then.
The Magic traded Lee to the New Jersey Nets as part of the Vince Carter deal that summer. The Nets went 17-65 in his sophomore season. The following year, Lee was dealt to the Houston Rockets. They failed to make the playoffs in his two seasons with the team.
Lee has been hungry for another shot at a championship. The Celtics share the same goal. They acquired Lee in a three-team trade in July, and he signed a multiyear contract with the Cs.
The guys that they have on this team, you've got KG Kevin Garnett, you've got Paul Pierce, you've got Rajon Rondo, and you've got a good core around them, Lee said. Adding Jason Terry, getting Jeff Green back, and then adding myself, that's definitely a playoff contender team. That's one thing I wanted to focus on, getting back to the playoffs.
Lee has known coach Doc Rivers for years through Rivers sons, Jeremiah and New Orleans Hornets rookie Austin. He understands and appreciates the determined mindset of the Celtics staff and players.
As a highly touted free agent, Lee could have gone elsewhere. But after craving a return to the postseason, he knew playoff contention didnt necessarily come with a bigger contract.
To better your career, you've got to make the best move possible, he said. And winning is one of those things you can't put a price on."