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What do we do with… Jeff Green?

John - Red's Army (@RedsArmy_John) May 14, 2013 Celtics News, Jeff Green 24 Comments

The offseason is here for the Boston Celtics, and in just a couple of months, they will begin the process of putting next year’s team together.  We will take a look at the current Celtics and try to figure out what to do with each of them.  We continue today with Jeff Green.

His contract was called “the worst of the summer” last July.  When Danny Ainge committed $36 million dollars to a player fresh off of heart surgery, and in the midst of a young career that had provided little evidence of justifying such a deal, eyes squinted and heads cocked in his direction.

Ainge either knew something most people didn’t, or he was making a grave mistake.

Now, with a full season of Jeff Green finally tucked under our shamrock festooned belts, we are starting to see some of why the Celtics made such a commitment.

This is not to say the assessment of Green is easy.  It not, actually.  He found himself at the wrong end of Doc’s patience enough to raise a concern.  He still lacks the consistency you’d hope for out of one of your main options.  Dimensions still need to be added to his game.

The question for the Celtics now is this:  After a full season, albeit one freshly removed from having his chest cracked open, is Jeff Green on a path to becoming the player you thought he could be, or is he who “they” thought he was?  What the Celtics do with Green depends on their honest assessment and answer to that question.

With about $28 million over three years left on his deal, waiving him or buying him out aren’t really options.  That means there are really only two:

Trade him

If the Celtics don’t believe Green is on an All Star path, then they’ll shop him this summer.  They have in him a fairly valuable trade asset.  He’s still only 26.  He’s playing NBA basketball at a time when most people would be happy to just be jogging again.  He’s amassed a ton of highlights.  And he’s come up with some big games against some good teams.

Under the guise of “well, we love him, but I’m under orders to rebuild,” Ainge could put Green on the block and see what’s out there.  Tack on Courtney Lee, and now the Celtics have a trade package that includes two guys in their physical prime at a combined $15 million dollars.  Even if they remain taxpayers, they can take back 125% + $100,000, or $18,718,750.  Throw in the un-guaranteed contract of DJ White, and now you can go to the Lakers and say “you need depth, we need a #2 guy with size… let’s talk Pau Gasol.”

Of course, that’s just an example of what they could do.   And to reiterate, this is under a very specific scenario in which the Celtics feel they’ve seen the peak of Green’s career.  Green has proven the $8,965,000 he’s due this coming season isn’t outrageous, and should the Celtics decide they want to move in a different direction, it’s a move-able deal, especially if you add the right sweeteners.

Keep him

With at least two more years on the deal (the third is a player option at $9,445,000), the Celtics have a solid two-year partnership with Rajon Rondo as an athletic, up-tempo, duo.  Both of their contracts, if Green opts out, are up at the same time, giving the Celtics an opportunity to press forward with the partnership, or give up on it if it’s not working.

If the Celtics foresee Rondo and Green as their stars of the future, they’ve got them locked up for a combined $21 and $22.5 million over the next two years.  That’s a great number if they turn into your top two options.  The Celtics have a couple of cap-friendly years under these guys to figure out if that’s truly the way to go.

So to recap…

  • Trade him if you think he’s hit his peak, and maybe package him with some other players to a team looking to add depth.
  • Keep him if you think he’s only going to get better, and hope he and Rondo (and Sullinger and Bradley, for that matter) can form the nucleus of a contender.

My take

I like a lot of what I saw out of Green late in the season.  I also think his contract will be seen as, at worst, reasonable… a far cry from “worst deal of the summer.”  It’s been reported that doctors told him he wouldn’t be back at 100% until two years after the surgery, so it’s very possible that many of his down moments earlier this past season won’t recur.  Considering the league’s current financial climate, the payroll, and what exists on this roster moving forward, a slasher who can hit the 3 (a career high, a team high, 38.5% this past season) is a nice asset to have.

One mitigating factor to the “trade him” scenario is while Green’s talent and contract certainly make him moveable, he’s not so good or so cheap that you can dump Jason Terry’s deal on someone in a trade.  Other teams that could give up some value for Green won’t be so desperate to do so that they’d take on a bad deal.  So there’s that, which I think is important.  If you could attach mad money to good, the Celtics might have been more enticed to move Green.  Since that’s not really possible, the possibility of a trade is somewhat diminished.

You might look at his points per game and see it was only at 12.8 this year, but that doesn’t tell the whole story because his minutes were down.  His per-36 numbers put him at 16.6… which is a career best.  In fact, Green hit career highs in not just that and 3-point percentage, but overall field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, block percentage, PER, and assist percentage.

The bottom line here is that Jeff Green improved a lot over his overall career numbers this past season, and he did it while recovering from heart surgery.  I’m keeping this guy.

Part of keeping him should also probably include the old Larry Bird trick of tying his right hand behind his back so he could work on his left hand.  Green is a right-hand dominant player that can do pretty well because of his athleticism.  But developing that left hand will make him all that more dangerous.

Another part of keeping him should involve whatever tactics necessary to draw emotion out of him during games.  Angry Jeff Green is a good Jeff Green.

And just to show you how intertwined these decisions are….

Part of why Green succeeded where he has this year is because he was pushed by Doc Rivers and by Kevin Garnett.  In making a decision about Paul Pierce that could have a ripple effect on the those other two, the Celtics need to figure out the critical juncture of the development of guys like Green.  When the Celtics weigh pros and cons of how their money is spent, the way the veterans impact players like Green is a big deal.  If the Celtics view him as a pivotal part of their future, there may be a willingness to spend money for one more season to make sure they get the most out of him down the road.

Also check out:

What do we do with… Courtney Lee?

What do we do with… Jason Terry?

What do we do with… Rajon Rondo?

What do we do with… Kevin Garnett?

What do we do with… Paul Pierce?

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  • eddysamson

    How could you not be happy with Green with the way he ended his season. He was the only Celtic (I think) that actually played better at the end of the year when everyone else (even Lee and Bradley) were coming up short.

    Then came the post season. People put tons of weight in post season play. And you know…Green was probably our most consistently good player in the playoffs. Even with all those atrocious offensive halves of basketball by the team, he still had around 20 PPG over 6 games.

    He’s also showing he may very well turn into a better 3 point shooter than Pierce.

    KEEP HIM!

    • Chulinho

      I didn’t think Jeff would average 20ppg in the playoffs. Despite the atrocity that was the Celtics’ offense, that was a pleasant surprise.

    • LA Flake

      He may be a better spot-up corner 3 shooter than Pierce. But a better 3 point shooter than Pierce? The 3 pt shooting CHAMPION? HELL F*CKING NO. It’s easy to underrate Pierce now because he really showed his age this year but for the better part of FIFTEEN YEARS in Boston, Pierce has drained more dagger pull up 3s than anyone that ever wore a C’s uniform outside of maybe Ray Allen. Yes. Including Larry Legend. Pierce is a living LEGEND. Think back to all the pivotal games where Pierce just came up HUUUUUGE. His 46 (or 48?) point game against Iverson’s 6ers in a win-or-go-home game 5. His monster games against the Nets. Lebron’s Cavs. DWade’s Heat. Kobe’s Lakers. They all were eliminated by the one and only Paul Pierce and his heroics while wearing green. Come on now. Let’s be real here. Jeff is good but he’s got a loooooong way to go before he ever reaches Pierce’s status.

      • Chulinho

        I agree, but I don’t think eddysamson was disrespecting Pierce like that.

      • eddysamson

        my choice of words was trying to avoid comments like this. I was referencing his 16 games as a starter with 51% 3pt shooting. MAY VERY WELL turn into a better 3 point shooter.

        • LA Flake

          My bad. I’m a little sensitive about Pierce right now because he’s been my favorite player for 15 years and am tired of people disrespecting him and his tenure. You weren’t doing that, I know.

  • Lee in Oregon

    JG was amazing this year, especially considering the guy had his chest cut wide open not that long ago. I was down on him when they signed him to the big contract, but in my opinion he’s worth the dough and still getting stronger.

    With JG and Rondo, we’ve got 2 great players to build around/. What’s the big hurry to get into the lottery?

  • http://twitter.com/REDSLOVECHILD RED`S LOVE CHILD

    If the Celtics commit to getting rebounders—who will allow them to run in the open court and fast break—then definitely keep Jeff Green!

    If they choose to continue getting punished on the boards, and play a half court offense—they`ll be wasting Jeff Green`s talent.

    • Chulinho

      I agree. It would be nice to see the C’s run more fast breaks with Green. Picking up a rebounder or two wouldn’t be too bad. Easier said than done though.

      • Bleedgren

        We gotta convince bill russel to come out of retirement and relive his days fast breaking with Cousy.

        • Chulinho

          LOL. With the way the team currently rebounds it wouldn’t surprise me if Russell averaged 20 boards!

          • Bleedgren

            But doc would never play him when he could play bass.

          • Chulinho

            HA.

  • LA Flake

    I like Jeff Green a lot. But what if we can get a legit big for him and say, Courtney Lee? Someone like DMC. Or Big Al. Because Jeff is arguably our biggest trading chip and he and his reasonable contract should be very attractive to a bunch of teams. I’m all for keeping him but if Danny wants to add a legitimate big to play with Rondo, Jeff has to be included in any discussion he has.

    • ShawnCVD

      I wouldn’t move him for Big Al unless C’s are trying one last Championship push. That means bring PP/KG back. Problem is if Rondo isn’t playing at a level equal to pre injury then AL/KG/PP/Bradley/Sully/JET won’t get it done.

      My favorite idea over past few days was PapaIrish’s idea of dangling Bass/Lee/x to Lakers for Gasol. That’s a true one last chance teaming Pau with KG/PP/Rondo/Green/Bradley/Sully/Jet/TWilliams/Mini Mid level rebounder/filler

      An added bonus is that Pau/PP/KG would all come off of books at end of 2014 making Boston a huge player in free agency while retaining the Rondo/Green/Bradley/Sully core.

  • pierce Hart

    By the power of Greyskull keep Jeff Green. Once he fitted into the team he was phenomenal defensively and played very well without Rondo giving him easy buckets. He’s like Rudy Gay but with a good shot. For 9 mil he and rondo a bargains. If he can become a better rebounder the sky is the limit.

    • Mike C

      Totally agree, this is the easiest decision the Celtics have to make before next year. Plus, I want to see a Rondo at 100% playing with a Green at 100%! That could be explosive.
      UPDATE: Pacers just defeated the knicks (EASILY) tonight to go up 3-1 in that series. Pacers out rebounded the Knicks 53 to 26. Doesn’t this end all other arguments about what puzzle piece is missing from the Celtics roster? REBOUNDER, REBOUNDER, REBOUNDER! Who is the 2014 version of Dennis Rodman? Thats who we need to get. END of STORY!!!

      • ShawnCVD

        Boston’s biggest problem against NYK was no ball handler. The Knicks disrupted the C’s by overplaying passing lanes. It was hard for Boston to get into any flow when NY was causing all those turnovers.

        Rebounding is needed especially as Boston commits to becoming a fast break team. Rondo (and the lack of depth at PG) was the difference maker against NY.

      • kg215

        We definitely need a big rebuild or not, preferably an athletic shot blocker/rebounder. Gorgui Dieng could be the right guy, or we can try to package something together for an established big man.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chuck.mckenney1 Chuck McKenney

    I still think they overpaid for Jeff (no other offers!!!), but I want him to stay in Boston. I like his game and he’s trending in the right direction. Keep him.

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  • Flava Frayz

    I can admit that I wanted Jeff Green traded at the deadline as restitution for the Kendrick Perkins trade. I’m still not over the Perkins deal and probably won’t ever fully make peace with it. However, Jeff Green is a pure stud and is the future for the Cs. Is he untradable? Not quite but there better be a damn good return (Dwight Howard) for Ainge to even ponder trading Green. Green is freakin awesome and can only get better!

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