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Courtney Lee, Mavs

One player the Mavericks should look to move ahead of the NBA trade deadline

After not making the playoffs last year, the Dallas Mavericks have vaulted themselves as possible contenders in the Western Conference this season. Spearheaded by second-year superstar Luka Doncic and new acquisition Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks are sitting at 19-10 on the season and in fifth place in the West.

Regardless of the team’s success, the year hasn’t been perfect for Dallas. Things should pick back up once Doncic returns from injury but if the Mavericks want to “trim the fat” off the roster this holiday season, someone might need to be traded.

If you had to guess who the third highest-paid player on the Mavericks roster is, would you guess 4.1-point-per-game scorer Courtney Lee?

In 2016, Lee signed a four-year, $48 million contract with the New York Knicks. After being included in the Porzingis deal last January, Lee has struggled to even find rotation minutes in Dallas.

Lee has enjoyed a successful 12-year NBA career, but at 34 years old, his prime is well past him. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard has never been anything more than an above-average role player in the league but it looks like even those days are no longer.

This season, the veteran guard has appeared in eight games for the Mavericks where he is playing just 8.6 minutes per contest.

The near $12.8 million Lee is owed in 2019-20 is ridiculous, but for a player that barely gets into the game, the money is better spent elsewhere. Most of the Mavericks’ cap space will be going to Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. and luckily, the team has a few years before they have to resign Doncic.

The Knicks sent Lee to Dallas pretty much as a salary dump and it would probably be wise for the Mavericks to do the same. If they have to throw in a second round pick or two, so be it. If they’re fortunate, they’ll get picks of equal value in return or perhaps a player that can actually contribute to what the team is building.

To be fair, in those 8.6 minutes he is playing a game, Lee is shooting an impressive 59.1 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from deep, so maybe Lee’s career isn’t over quite yet.

Teams are usually pretty eager to take on expiring contracts and with the strong depth Dallas already possesses, Lee would likely best be used somewhere else. A team in need of veteran depth or teams looking to free up cap space in the future could be suitors.