Former Oklahoma City Thunder star Jeff Green missed all of last season for the Boston Celtics with a heart condition.
Green returned to the floor for the first time in an NBA uniform yesterday, playing in Turkey for the Celtics vs. Fenerbahce Ulker.
The Celtics lost 97-91 but Green played well scoring 16 points in 27 minutes. He went 7-for-10 from the field and also grabbed four boards.
“Yeah, (Green) was very comfortable. He played with great speed,” Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said after the game. “You could see he played well at the 3 and the 4, which was great. The last time we had him he struggled when we switched him back and forth. Obviously we’re starting to figure out his game as well, so that helped.”
The Thunder sent Green to the Celtics in a surprise deal at the trade deadline two seasons ago and received Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson in return. The thought process at the time was that OKC needed added size to contend with the Los Angeles Lakers who were dominating the Western Conference at that time.
While Perkins fit in just fine in OKC, Green struggled to do so in Boston. Green played 23.5 minutes per game and averaged 9.8 points per game while shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 29.6 percent from three.
In the playoffs for Boston two seasons ago, he averaged just 19.2 minutes and 7.3 points per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the field.
These numbers were way down from what Green did in his time with the Thunder. Green was averaging around 15 points and six rebounds per game for the Thunder from 2008 until he was traded. He started as an undersized power forward and was often the second scoring option, blending well with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
When Green left, it opened up the door for James Harden and Serge Ibaka to step up and they have done just that. But you still can’t help wondering what it would be like if Green were still on the Thunder.
Without Perkins, maybe the Thunder don’t get to the NBA Finals last season and beat the Lakers in the second round. But in the conference finals and NBA Finals, Perkins was much more of a liability on the floor and OKC would have been much better off with someone exactly like Green, matching the small ball lineups of San Antonio and Miami.
The Thunder are looking to fill the void Green left as a versatile forward, able to play the three and four with rookie Perry Jones III. It’s not a perfect match but Jones III has the potential to play a similar role that Green did, just scaled down offensively which will fit in more with the current hierarchy of the Thunder.
Green has moved on to with Boston signing new 4-year, $36 million deal. He will be a very important part of Boston’s team as they hope to make another run at getting by the Miami Heat next season.