OAKLAND -– David Lee came to the Bay Area to polish his star. He'd been an All-Star in New York when he came to the Warriors in 2010, signing the biggest contract on the payroll to become the face of the franchise.
He was, for a couple seasons, even representing the team in the 2013 All-Star Game.
Due to circumstances beyond his control, though, Lee's star has fallen a bit. Though still formidable, the man once relied on to provide 20 points and 10 rebounds a game has gone from All-Star to successive seasons hampered by injury to where he is now, an increasingly productive reserve.
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Coach Steve Kerr on Tuesday made official what had been presumed for weeks. Draymond Green, who assumed the role when Lee strained his left hamstring in the Oct. 24 preseason finale, is the starting power forward until further notice.
"With David, I wasn't planning on bringing him off the bench," Kerr said. "But he got hurt. He had a great preseason. He was going to be the starting (power forward). He got hurt. I put Draymond out there. Draymond took the job."
Lee missed the first three regular-season games, returned for the fourth and was re-injured after seven minutes. He missed the next 21 games, a period during which the Warriors put together the best start in franchise history (22-3) and reeled off a franchise-record 16-game win streak before Lee returned Dec. 22.
"At that stage," Kerr said, "you're going to stick with what got you to 22-3."
Lee, 31, has accepted what transpired. He watched from his seat on the bench as it unfolded. The Warriors were rolling without him and he knew, as the oldest member of the team, his reaction would set an example.
"I definitely am up for whatever coach wants to do," Lee said Wednesday. "And I've told him that. It's about winning at this point. Nothing else matters."
Lee also knew Andre Iguodala, another veteran who had been an All-Star with a previous team, had made the same sacrifice. Kerr moved Harrison Barnes into the starting lineup, by design, and made Iguodala a catalyst for the second unit.
"If we were a .500 team or we were below .500, I'd probably sit here be like, `Come on.' I've proven I can put up stats in this league. That's a given," Lee said Wednesday. "I've proven I can help my team win. I know coach has no agenda but to win. And neither does anyone else on this team.
"So that's why I say whatever fits best. And it may not be the same the whole year. It may continue the same way. It's up to coach and the powers that be. After a guy like Andre has done the exact same thing this year, it would be very difficult for me to step in and do anything differently. He's handled it like a true pro and I plan to do the same thing if that's what the fate is."
The second unit has three players capable of starting: Iguodala, Lee and point guard Shaun Livingston. It took a couple weeks for Iguodala and Livingston, coming off foot surgery, to develop a rhythm, and it will be another couple weeks before the impact of this threesome becomes apparent.
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Lee's court time has steadily increased and he said his "minutes restriction" has been lifted. He concedes that he still is building up his conditioning.
"I'm really enjoying at this point just being back out there," he said.
There will be times, certainly with starting center Andrew Bogut sidelined, when Lee and Green will play together as the team's big men. Once Bogut returns, Green and Lee likely will split the majority of the power forward minutes.
Kerr is delighted to look down his bench and see, in addition to Iguodala and Livingston, someone who offers as much as Lee. It speaks to the team's depth and to the possibilities that lie ahead.
"I love the way that Draymond has seized the job," Kerr said. "I love the way David has responded. He told me he just wants to do whatever it takes to help the team win. He's embracing his new role. And, for us, what a luxury to have an All-Star and a guy who's been a 20-10 player his whole career coming off the bench to give us firepower."
Stephen Curry, drafted one year before Lee's arrival, has become the face of the franchise. Klay Thompson is on All-Star trajectory. Green is entrenching himself as the starting power forward, showing no sign of giving it up.
Lee may not be able to get it back. Which is fine with him, as long as the Warriors can remain on this unprecedented run of success.