Lee became an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday, when the Houston Rockets withdrew their $4.3 million qualifying offer, and is now able to sign with the team of his choice without the specter of having the deal matched by his previous team.
Multiple reports have the Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks among the teams expressing interest in the 6-foot-5 Western Kentucky product who averaged 11.4 points in 58 games — including 26 as a starter — last season with the Rockets. Lee also shot 43.3 percent from the field and 40.3 percent from three-point range.
The Wizards have always been high on Lee because he “makes any team better,” the source said, adding that the team contacted “a lot” of players in this process.
Lee, 26, earned $2.2 million last season and has averaged 10 points and shot 38.6 percent from the field in four seasons with Orlando, New Jersey and Houston. He has a reputation for being a tenacious defender and was a starter on the Magic team that lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals in 2009.
The Wizards are seeking veteran help in the backcourt and have also reached out to Roger Mason Jr., Cartier Martin, John Lucas III and Kirk Hinrich, among others. They drafted shooting guard Bradley Beal with the third overall pick, but team president Ernie Grunfeld has already intimated that the team would not put too much pressure on the 19-year-old out of Florida to make significant contributions right away.
Jordan Crawford finished the season as the Wizards’ starting shooting guard and averaged 17 points and three assists after the all-star break. The Wizards have the mid-level exception worth $5 million to use on a player, but they are currently over the salary cap with 12 players under contract.