In the summer of 2012, Boston Celtics president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, took a bit of risk in re-signing Jeff Green to a 4-year, $36 million contract. At the time of the deal, Green was recovering from an aortic aneurysm.
Once the deal was set in stone, the majority of basketball followers believed that Ainge had made a mistake in inking an average player, coming off of heart surgery, to a hefty deal. I am personally an espouser of the belief Ainge overpaid for Green. But in hindsight, Green was an unrestricted free agent in his mid-20s, and was going to receive a blue chip deal in Celtic colors or elsewhere.
Celtics Nation was hoping Green would evolve into the player he is being paid to be. Especially with the departure of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, this equated to more of an opportunity in a new era under a contrasting regime. When both players were in Boston, Green thrived as a second or third option, but when put in the spotlight this past season, he choked just liked the Maple Leafs did against the Bruins in 2013.
During an uncommon rebuilding phase, in his neophyte season as a No. 1 and No. 2 option, Green shot a career-low 41.2 percent from the field. He also shot 34.1 percent from the three-point line. He attempted 14.3 shots per game, and 4.8 three-pointers per contest. Green deviated from using his athleticism to attack the paint, to for some unknown reason take jumpers. He attempted a career-low 24.3 percent of shots within 3-feet. Now, obviously, with a bigger role on the team Green was going to score. He averaged 16.9 points and 4.2 rebounds in 82 games, with a 13.8 PER. His below averaged performance made it evident that he is better off in the Tito Jackson role, rather than the Michael Jackson.
At 6-foot-9, Green was only able to average 4.6 rebounds per game. The former Celtics draftee has a wingspan of 7’1.25″ and a max vertical of 38′. He had a 7.7 percent rebound percentage. For gosh sake, Vander Blue (11.4) and MarShon Brooks (14.8) had a higher rebounding percentage. At his size and God given ability, he should at least average 6-7 rebounds every night. And for the heck of it, Green only averaged a dismal 1.7 assists during the season — second highest of his career. He had a assist percentage of 8.7 percent. Rookie big-man Kelly Olynyk averaged 1.6 assists per game, but had an assist percentage of 13.1 percent. Green is far from a playmaker, and is just a scorer. Nothing more, and nothing less. Being average is a fact, not a myth. Had to get my statistic point out of the way; shall we move on?
Green has simply not lived up to the expectations that were once slated on him when he was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2011 for the beloved Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson. It’s hard seeing him being an intricate part of the Celtics future with his inconsistent play. The soon-to-be 28-year-old will make $9.2 million during the 2014-15 season, and $9.2 million in 2015-16 if he accepts his player option. Green’s performance, salary and team’s direction is why he is likely to be dealt. Don’t give me the whole “9 million isn’t being overpaid” spiel. Let’s put it like this; he’s not being tremendously overpaid, but he is without a doubt not living up to his potential. There is no argument against that statement.
As I said before, Green is a less than average player. For his career he has a 13.1 PER — league average is 15.0. The highest of his career is 15.0 which was during the 2011-12 season. PER is a widely used stat, and it proves that him becoming a franchise player is something that people can only delineate in their head.
Early in the season Green said, “I’ve been the guy who has been the third option most of my career.” There must be a real reason why he was always the No. 3 option. Possibly because he doesn’t have the talent to be a lead singer, and is better off as the lead singers shadow.
Back in April, the Boston Herald‘s Mark Murphy reported that Green was “eminently available” for a contending team to acquire him as a third or fourth option. A third or fourth role would behoove him, if he likes it or not. Green would be better off on a team in which he is for certain their missing piece.
The question still remains; When and will he be traded?
Photo Credits: CBS Boston, Dime Magazine.