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Lee goes to Charlotte in 3-team deal
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Charlotte Hornets acquired veteran swingman Courtney Lee from the Grizzlies in a three-team trade that will help bolster the team’s perimeter shooting and defense after losing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for the season to a shoulder injury.
The Grizzlies got forward P.J. Hairston from Charlotte and big man Chris Andersen and two second-round draft picks from the Heat, who will get guard Brian Roberts from Charlotte.
The three teams confirmed the trade Tuesday night.
“He brings a lot of experience,” Hornets general manager Rich Cho said in a conference call. “He is a vet that is a true pro. He’s a great shooter and plays great defense.”
Hornets coach Steve Clifford coached Lee before in Orlando.
The Hornets went into the All-Star break in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, just ahead of the Detroit Pistons, who bolstered their roster on Tuesday by adding Tobias Harris from the Magic. Just seven games after Kidd-Gilchrist made a surprisingly early return from a serious shoulder injury, he suffered another shoulder injury, dealing a difficult blow to Charlotte’s defense.
Lee is in his eighth NBA season and has established a reputation as a coveted “3 and D guy,” a player who can knock down open 3-point shots while also serving as a capable defender on the wing.
“There are not a lot of those 3 and D guys around,” Cho said.
Cho said it’s unclear if Lee will start right away, but he expects him to play a lot of minutes.
The Grizzlies were in the market for help because of a serious injury themselves. Center Marc Gasol broke his right foot not long before the All-Star break, so Memphis is bringing Andersen in from the Heat to try to bolster its frontcourt depth. Andersen was a valuable role player during the Heat’s run to a championship in 2012-13 and back to the NBA Finals the following season. But he has played in only seven games this season.
The trade also gives the Grizzlies a chance to look at Hairston, a second-year forward who has shown potential but has also dealt with off-the-court issues. He has started 43 games for the Hornets this season, averaging 6.0 points and 2.7 rebounds in 19.7 minutes per game.
The deal also creates more flexibility going into this summer with Andersen in the final year of his contract.
With Goran Dragic and Beno Udrih already cemented as the top two point guards, Roberts doesn’t figure to factor immediately into the Heat’s plans on the court. But the deal helps the Heat move closer to escaping the luxury tax.
The Hornets announced that Kidd-Gilchrist would have surgery Wednesday on his right shoulder.
Kidd-Gilchrist first tore the labrum in October during a preseason game, forcing him to have surgery. He returned last month and was averaging 12.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 29.3 minutes per game in seven contests.
However, the former No. 2 pick in the draft out of Kentucky tore the labrum again in the third quarter of Charlotte’s 117-95 win against the Indiana Pacers on Feb. 10 and has been sidelined ever since.
Cho said the injury played a role in the decision to trade for Lee. Kidd-Gilchrist is the team’s top defender.
“That was a factor losing MKG. We were looking for 3 and D guys and feel like Courtney will be a big help to us,” Cho said.