Celtic fans, what you see with Jeff Green is what you get

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When Danny Ainge pulled the trigger on the Jeff Green, Kendrick Perkins trade that Ainge thought more highly of Green than myself and some others did.

Not that Green is a bad player, he’s just kind of average (not the elite player some think). He’s athletic but his shot selection has always been poor and his defense was never that good. He would play passive at times.

Well, after five weeks Celtics fans have become perplexed by Green. Doc Rivers and the folks at ESPN Boston sum it up pretty well:

“I think he’s too nice,” Rivers said. “He’s trying to please the other guys on the floor. I’ve always thought playing with us is difficult, when you’re new, because you’re playing with Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] and Kevin [Garnett] and [Rajon] Rondo and you almost don’t think like you deserve to be an aggressive offensive player or you should be, and I think he does that way too much.”

Since joining the Celtics late in February, Green has averaged 9.8 points on 7.4 field goal attempts per game. The C’s are counting on Green to provide an offensive spark off the bench, and he’s done just that in certain games, like when he scored 13 of his 19 points in the second quarter in a win over the Indiana Pacers back on March 16.

But there have been other games where Green’s been less aggressive with his shot selection, and as a result, his contributions have been minimal. In his last two contests, he’s averaged just four points on five field goal attempts and two rebounds. Rivers suggested he’s still being too passive at times, but has begun to work his way out of that habit.

Everyone — this is Jeff Green. He was what we thought he was. It’s not like he was some guy coming from a bad team/system who now would see the light of day once in Boston.

Green’s shooting percentage, both inside and outside the arc, have gone up since going to Boston while using about the same percentage of the offense he did before. The shots he’s taking are changing — he is shooting about a quarter as many threes per game yet nearly as many midrange shots as he did in Oklahoma City (his threes per 36 minutes on the court dropped from 3.6 to 1.7, but his overall shot level remains close to the same). What’s more, Hoopdata.com shows he’s shooting much, much better in the midrange (from 20 percent to 46 percent on 10-15 footers).

Green’s offense isn’t bad, it’s just inconsistent. If Celtics fans thought they were getting something else in this deal they should have asked Thunder fans about his play. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder coaching staff hand periods of frustration with Green’s inconsistent offense.

Then there’s defense. Zach Lowe had the numbers at Sports Illustrated.

326 points allowed in 300 possessions, or 108.6 points allowed per 100 possessions. And here we see it happening again: Green’s team is playing far worse, defensively, with him on the floor. The sample size is small — only about 172 minutes — but the fact that we’re seeing this same trend repeat itself in Boston is not encouraging. The Celtics and Bulls have taken turns atop the league’s defensive rankings all season, with both surrendering about 100 points per 100 possessions. With Green on the floor, Boston has defended at about the level of the Rockets and Nets, who rank 20th and 21st in points allowed per possession this season.

Pretty much what happened at the Thunder.

You can rationalize it and say if you play him at different positions (more three than four) or put him in with different lineups you’ll get better results. Maybe. The Celtics are a team that figures things out, and Green provides nice depth off the bench on offense. Players do improve. Sometimes.

But basically, this is Jeff Green. What you are seeing is what you will get.

Paul George: I would have signed with Lakers if Pacers didn’t trade me to Thunder

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Paul George didn’t request a trade from the Pacers. He merely informed them he’d leave in free agency and told people he’d sign with the Lakers, leaving it up to Indiana what to do about it.

The Pacers traded him to Oklahoma City, where George found a long-term home. He re-signed with the Thunder this summer.

Marc J. Spears of ESPN:

Paul George revealed to ESPN’s The Undefeated that he “would have been in a Lakers uniform” if he had never been traded from the Indiana Pacers. But after the Pacers dealt the five-time All-Star to the Oklahoma City Thunder instead last year, he fell in love with his new team and playing with Russell Westbrook before eventually agreeing to a four-year, $137 million contract extension this past offseason.

“It was 50-50 on deciding whether I wanted to come back home or if it was smarter to be in the situation I am in now,” George told The Undefeated. “But it wasn’t overstated. I wanted to play in L.A. That is where I wanted to go. Had that trade never went down, had I played one more year in Indy, I would have been in a Lakers uniform.”

Even while with the Thunder, George spoke openly about the appeal of Los Angeles. Despite not meeting with the Lakers in free agency, he still called them tempting. He’s mostly just confirming what we already believed.

Remember, the Lakers could have traded for George last year. Instead, they banked on getting him without surrendering assets, and that gambit failed. Importantly, they still lured LeBron James, but they’re still searching for a second star.

This ought to reopen questions about whether the Lakers erred by not trading for Kawhi Leonard. Leonard reportedly has interest in Los Angeles (though maybe more in the Clippers), but the Lakers watched the Spurs trade him to the Raptors. Will Leonard similarly fall for Toronto and spurn his hometown team?

It’d be a mistake to assume Leonard will follow the path of George, who’s a completely different person. But it’d also be a mistake not to evaluate the precedent set by George and learn from it.

Pistons play recording of Aretha Franklin’s national anthem while spotlighting open microphone at center court (video)

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Pistons legend Isiah Thomas eulogized Aretha Franklin – a proud Detroit native – last summer and concluded with a message to the deceased singer:

I want you to know, I love you. The world loves you. And most importantly, Aretha, Detroit loves you.

Detroit showed its love for Aretha before the Pistons’ opener yesterday. Thomas again spoke kindly of her then asked for a moment of silence. The arena went dark and quiet.

Then, a spotlight shined on an unattended microphone at center court as a recording of Aretha’s national anthem played. While this video shows the powerful rendition of the song, by focusing on the images of Aretha shown on the scoreboard, it doesn’t even capture the full feeling of the moment.

Seeing that open spotlighted microphone throughout the entire anthem was hauntingly beautiful and a great tribute to the Queen of Soul.

NBA’s minor league to offer $125,000 salaries to not-yet-draft-eligible 18-year-olds

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The NBA will lower its age limit to 18, effectively ending the one-and-done era.

Eventually.

In the meantime, the best option for most top players leaving high school is college basketball. But while the NBA takes its time changing a rule (that it never should have implemented in the first place), the NBA’s minor league will offer an alternative route.

G League release:

The NBA G League today announced a Select Contract as part of a comprehensive professional path that will be available, beginning with the 2019-20 season, to elite prospects who are eligible to play in the NBA G League but not yet eligible for the NBA.  The contracts, which will include robust programmatic opportunities for development, are for elite players who are at least 18 years old and will pay $125,000 for the five-month season.

NBA G League Select Contracts are designed for year-round professional growth and will include opportunities for basketball development, life skills mentorship and academic scholarship.  These offerings are slated to include basketball workouts during the summer months through existing NBA infrastructure like NBA Summer League and NBA Academies, year-round education programs designed to increase players’ ability to personally and professionally manage their careers, and a scholarship program for athletes who want to pursue higher education after their playing days.  Additionally, the NBA G League will further enhance player experience through existing partner relationships and NBA player development programming.

The $125,000 salary is nice and a sizeable jump from the standard minor-league salary, which these players were already eligible to receive. Select Contract players can also sign endorsements and receive loans from agents while remaining eligible to play, unlike in the NCAA.

But it’s not as if college basketball players aren’t compensated. Though their compensation is limited by the NCAA cartel, players still get tuition, room and board and cost-of-living expenses. And of course many get under-the-table money, too. The value of that compensation – particularly the tuition – varies by person.

Access to NBA infrastructure could swing some players, but that also comes with risk. Older professionals could expose younger, even more talented, players. Experience and physical advancement matter.

So does the stage. Top college-basketball players are nationally recognized stars who appear regular on television and are revered on campus. Minor-league players are relatively anonymous and play in mid-sized cities away from much fanfare.

There’s still plenty to sort out, and the details could affect how many players enter this new program out of high school. But it’s nice they have another option.

It’d be far better if they could just declare for the NBA draft if they feel they’re ready.