After playing such a prominent role in the Orlando Magic's run to the NBA Finals in just his rookie season, Courtney Lee figured that he would be an important cog with the Magic for many years to come.
Or so he thought. Just two weeks after the Magic lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals, Lee was traded to the New Jersey Nets as part of the five-player deal that brought veteran All-Star Vince Carter back to his hometown of Orlando.
Suddenly, Lee's world was turned totally upside down.
"It was definitely a shock," Lee said. "After going all the way to the finals, I expected us to regroup and make another run at winning the title. But when I heard about the trade, I was in a state of shock. I sort of still am in shock.
Never miss a local story.
"I can't say I was prepared for this at all. I didn't see it coming."
Lee, a native of Indianapolis and a product of Western Kentucky, averaged 8.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game for the Magic. He also played considerable minutes in 21 playoff games, averaging 8.0 points and playing after suffering a broken eye socket that he said has fully healed.
Lee says he can play a bigger role with the Nets next season.
"I was a scorer in college, and scoring has always come natural for me," he said. "In Orlando, I knew my role wasn't going to have to be strong on the offensive end, so I focused on defense. I didn't have a starring role in Orlando. Now, I'm coming to a different place, and I have a bigger opportunity."
Pistons fire Curry after all
The Detroit Pistons fired Coach Michael Curry on Tuesday as the team started rebuilding from an unpopular trade, a sub-.500 record and an embarrassing first-round exit from the playoffs that ended its six-year streak of making it to the conference finals.
The Pistons went 39-43 and were swept in the post-season in four lopsided losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Joe Dumars, the team's president for basketball operations, said after that series that Curry would return, but he changed his mind about the fate of his former Pistons teammate.
"This was a difficult decision to make," Dumars said in a statement. "I want to thank Michael for his hard work and dedication to the organization. However, at this time, I have decided to make a change."
Pistons spokesman Kevin Grigg said the timetable for naming a new coach was up in the air.
"Obviously, with the free agency period starting (Wednesday), we don't know quite the speed of it," Grigg said.
The Pistons began the season with big hopes but couldn't recover from the loss of All-Star point guard Chauncey Billups in a November trade to Denver for Allen Iverson — a move intended to feature Iverson's creativity and create time for emerging guard Rodney Stuckey.
Instead, the Pistons fell apart. They won just three games in February and three in April.