OKLAHOMA CITY — The Celtics reached an agreement that will send Courtney Lee to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for guard Jerryd Bayless, a league source confirmed to the Globe Sunday.
The deal will give the Celtics a young, athletic perimeter player who has torched them in the past, while, more importantly, giving the team financial flexibility.
A trade announcement was expected to come as early as Monday.
Lee, who was traded to the Celtics in 2012, didn’t play Sunday in the team’s 119-96 loss to Oklahoma City, and he left Chesapeake Energy Arena before the game ended.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he couldn’t comment on Lee. Several Celtics said Lee wished them all good luck on the way out, and they said they did the same to him.
“He’s still a good friend of mine, always will be,” said Jeff Green. “I wish the best for him.”
Lee, who averaged 7.4 points over 16.8 minutes per game with the Celtics this season, posted a photo on his Instagram account during the game.
“Would like to thank [everyone] in the Celtics organization for the opportunity to be a Celtic,” Lee wrote in the caption. “I enjoyed my time in Boston and am grateful . . . Would also like to thank the fans for the amazing year and a half journey. We started off a little rocky, but I got my game back right so thanks for the extra motivation #allgoodthingscometoanend!!!”
The Celtics will shed the final two years of Lee’s contract, worth about $11 million total, in favor of Bayless’s expiring $3.1 million contract. It’s a move that will help the Celtics move further under the NBA’s luxury-tax line and give them more room to maneuver under the salary cap next summer.
Bayless, who is averaging 8 points and 2 assists over 20.8 minutes per game, is a player who has been a thorn in the Celtics’ side. The 25-year-old former Arizona standout scored 15 points, all in the fourth quarter of his team’s 95-88 win over the Celtics on Nov. 4 in Memphis.
Bayless scored a season-high 22 points against the Celtics later that month when the teams met in Boston. The Grizzlies won that game, 100-93. And last season, Bayless scored 30 points against the Celtics in a 110-106 Memphis win on March 23.
For Lee, the potential deal could mean that he’ll be playing for his fifth team since being drafted by Orlando in 2008.
The former Western Kentucky star was dealt to the Nets in 2009 and then to Houston in 2010.
In 2012, as part of a three-team trade, Lee was shipped to Boston, where the Celtics saw him as a 3-point shooter and a perimeter defender who could complement their star players, such as Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
But Lee struggled in his first season as a Celtic, eventually losing his place in the starting lineup. And when those stars left, Lee’s place on the Celtics became even more in question.
Foes and friends
Stevens and Thunder general manager Sam Presti hit it off a few years ago. Presti was starting out in his role with the Thunder, and Stevens was one of the youngest college head coaches in the country, leading mid-major Butler University.
Both of them were former Division 3 players: Stevens at DePauw University in Indiana and Presti at Emerson College in Boston.
Their first conversation, Stevens recalled, came before Butler went on its first Final Four run, in 2010. Presti had come to watch the Bulldogs play and the two chatted.
“It was just about being young guys and trying to do the best that we could, knowing that we had some youth to us,” Stevens said. “It was a great conversation. He’s a really interesting guy. He’s a really sharp guy.”
They kept in touch, and Stevens even came to Oklahoma to speak at a high school coaches clinic that was organized by the Thunder.
“I just really think highly of him,” Stevens said. “He’s a really bright guy and a guy that’s clearly done a great job with this organization and really is a big thinker, outside the box, and trying to make it the best that it can be. I guess the results speak for themselves.”
Former Boston College standout Reggie Jackson continued his strong play with a career-high 27 points against the Celtics, including 11 in the first quarter.
Jackson has been filling in admirably for the injured Russell Westbrook (knee) and entered the game averaging 11.4 points and 5.2 assists in his last five games as a starter.
There is no timetable yet for Westbrook’s return, though the All-Star guard is off crutches and is back shooting free throws following surgery on Dec. 27.
“He’s really aggressive, really ahead of the curve for his age,” Stevens said of Jackson. “The silver lining in the tough luck they’ve had with Westbrook is they’ve been able to play him more. He’s just grown and grown and grown.”
Jackson said he’s still trying to adjust to his role as a starter, but he also critiqued his own play.
“For the most part, I’ve got to find myself,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve been on lately, being myself. I know I can play. [I need to] just let my talents take over, instincts working, not think so much and just play basketball and try to have fun with it.”
As for the progress he’s made in his career, Jackson said he still has a long ways to go.
“I’m never where I want to be,” he said. “I just want to get better. I want to be the greatest each and every day I wake up.”
He added, “I think my career at the end will be measured by championships, so that’s how I measure myself.”