Prior to the NBA D-League All-Star break, perhaps the biggest trade of the minor league season went down between the Springfield Armor and Maine Red Claws as the two teams agreed to swap James Mays for Kris Joseph. Both players have had a tremendous impact when they have suited up for their respective teams, and are considered to be top-tier talents in the NBA D-League.
"James has been a popular name in the NBA D-League this season, he's a prototypical power forward who can score and rebound very well. The trade itself came about pretty quickly, Austin (Ainge) mentioned Joseph's name as a possibility and we went from there." Lee said.
The executive further explained, "you have to give up talent to get talent, and that's what we chose to do." The Armor certainly gave up a talent as Mays has averaged 16.2 points and 10.4 rebounds this season, and earned NBA D-League All-Star honors. Mays is one of the top rebounding forwards in the D-League and helped position the Armor atop the league in total offensive rebounds.
However, Lee believes that the team as a whole can make up for Mays' absence on the glass, "we have a number of guys who can rebound well, Dennis Horner, Willie Reed, Kenny Adeleke, and Carleton Scott all can give us rebounds, so we've replaced him with a good group that will rebound by committee." Lee added.
Joseph demonstrated his entire repertoire during their recent two-game set on the road against the Idaho Stampede. Joseph led the Armor in scoring for the pair of victories against the Stampede, he averaged 25.5 points, and 5.5 rebounds. Joseph mixed in well with point guard Ben Uzoh and sharpshooter Carleton Scott out on the court, and looked a step ahead of his competition in both games.
Lee explained what he likes about the newly acquired Joseph, "his perimeter scoring and ability to take the ball late in the game is really special and something that we like." Joseph clearly gives the Armor an added dimension to their offense and creates terrific spacing for Uzoh to distribute the ball effectively.
Joseph played in 6 games for the Boston Celtics this season, but had limited production in little playing time. During his 12 games with the Maine Red Claws, Joseph averaged 18.2 points, and 5.3 rebounds in 34.1 minutes. Joseph was drafted in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft by the Celtics, and was a highly touted player coming out of Syracuse. His size and ability to knock down practically any shot out on the floor, had NBA scouts high on him out of college.
The Armor had a rather disappointing first half of the season as they won just 9 total games entering the All-Star break. But after their two victories on the road in Boise, and with a newly constructed core of players, the Armor are looking to bounce back. Lee shared his thoughts on what he thinks has to happen in the second half of the season for the team to win more games. "We experienced a lot of turnover early on this year, now we want the guys to simmer together, and have an opportunity to gel." Lee said.
The Armor had a pair of successful assignment players come their way in the first half of the season as well. Tyshawn Taylor and Tornike Shengalia put up huge numbers during their limited, but effective time spent with the Armor. Lee expressed how impressive the two players were during their stints, "both guys were very productive when they were down there, and as it lends itself, the opportunity for them to develop as players with Armor is a great option for us." Lee commented.
Lee noted Taylor's impressive game down the stretch against the Indiana Pacers recently in which he played 34 minutes. The Nets topped the Pacers 89-84 in overtime. It was a symbol of Taylor's continuing growth as a player, and perhaps provided the Nets front office with a taste of what the former second round pick out of Kansas can provide them with, if injuries present themselves to Deron Williams.
In his third season with the Nets, Lee's role as the GM of their Minor League Operations allows him to not only watch and help assist in the development of coveted players such as Taylor and Shengalia, but also strike deals that ultimately will strengthen the Springfield Armor such as their acquisition of Kris Joseph. Building a strong D-League affiliate while also developing talent for the Nets is exactly what Lee and the organization are after, and as the second half of the NBADL season unfolds, look for the Armor to continue with their improvement.