LAS VEGAS — The Celtics continued to bolster their bench Thursday, nabbing their No. 1 free-agent target, Courtney Lee, in a sign-and-trade deal with the Houston Rockets, according to a source. The source confirmed that second-year forward JaJuan Johnson is headed to Houston as part of the deal. Fellow second-year player E’Twaun Moore and backup center Sean Williams are also headed to the Rockets along with a 2013 second-round pick that was originally Charlotte’s.
Lee, 26, had been No. 1 on the Celtics’ list after Ray Allen signed with the Miami Heat, but the Celtics did not have enough salary cap space to sign Lee outright. Lee was seeking in the $5 million per season range, and the Celtics have apparently put together some contracts and draft picks that enticed the Rockets to sign Lee to a deal and then send him to the Celtics.
Johnson, the Celtics’ first-round pick in 2011, never found a role with the club and his lack of development privately bothered some team officials. He struggled in stretches during summer league and with the signings of Chris Wilcox, Jeff Green and the drafting of Jared Sullinger, his role this season was likely minute.
Lee averaged 11.4 points per game last season for the Rockets, who decided not to give him a qualifying offer, making him a free agent. Lee is a career 38.6 percent 3-point shooter who is also an above-average defender. He dined with Celtics coach Doc Rivers on July 7 and expressed a desire to play with the Celtics — at the right salary.
He said there was as many as eight teams interested, but when the Mavericks signed O.J. Mayo, the market began drying up for Lee.
The Celtics have a scheduled 6:30 p.m. summer league game with the Sacramento Kings. Johnson is not expected to play.