The Boston Celtics are a team in need of change. But change and improvement are two very different ghosts to chase when you're an NBA organization smack dab in the middle of a season. (And not just any season, but an all-in year that's spiraling into a gloomy chasm of hopelessness.)
Change is easy. Improvement is not. Apart from prayer, a trade is the only step that can be made towards accomplishing either. And in Boston, for better or for worse, Jeff Green is at the center of it all.
Before diving too deep into Green's value on the trade market, it should first be mentioned that his "type" of contract is viewed as poison by most general managers around the league. What "type" of contract are we talking about?
It isn't a max deal, and it isn't a rookie deal. It's in between (coincidentally, much like Green's game). Players coming off their rookie deal who aren't quite good enough to receive a maximum offer receive what Green received, a multi-year contract that pays between $6 million-$9 million per year. (Green is reportedly due to receive $36 million over the next four years.)
On the treacherous road to a championship, the more intelligent decision-makers around the league have treated contracts like Green's as gigantic potholes filled with plastic explosive, swerving as far away from them as possible; instead choosing to balance their cap space with a combination of one-year deals on stable veterans, long-term maximum contracts (spent on one or two foundational pieces), and rookie deals that will hopefully give them some bang for their buck.
It's John Salmons ($39.1 million over five years), Michael Beasley ($18 million over three years) and Thaddeus Young (apologies to Young, a talented player who does a ton of little things that help his team win games, but $43 million over five years is a bit much). Most of the time, these contracts are admitted overpays rationalized by a signing team's specific contextual need.
In reality, the cost-to-benefit ratio is drastically skewed away from the franchise's long-term good, as crucial salary-cap money is wasted on a supporting cast member who probably isn't good enough to start on a good team that would never offer that much in the first place.
Apart from Ryan Anderson (who signed a four-year deal for $34 million this summer), pretty much no player in the league is worth that mid-tier type of contract, and in Green's case—making matters worse—his deal is on the pricier end of the spectrum.
The Celtics' hands were tied when they signed Green, because at the time their need for an athletic wing was so great, and he was viewed as the "best" option available.
If they were outbid by someone else, Boston would have had available cap space but no backup wing to show for it. And what good is that if you're trying to squeeze another year or two of championship contention from Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce?
(In hindsight, they could've signed someone like Clippers forward Matt Barnes to a one-year, veteran's minimum deal. But that's neither here nor there.)
On top of his contract being one of the league's worst, here's the shimmy on Green's production so far this season. He's averaging fewer rebounds per 36 minutes than Rajon Rondo and shooting just 42.2 percent from the floor on eight shots per game (including an awful 32 percent from 16-23 feet—Boston's sweet spot). His PER is lower than Markieff Morris'.
Here's his shot chart.
Green's usage percentage is at a career high level, and he's doing a great job putting the opposing team in foul trouble by attacking lopsided mismatches. But, unfortunately, right now he's only scoring on 32.1 percent of isolation plays and 35.4 percent of all post-ups. Those two situations account for over a quarter of his offense, which isn't good.
Are the Celtics moving him? They'd love to, but unless he's paired with a young asset like Avery Bradley (or, to a lesser extent, Jared Sullinger) there's almost no chance they'll find a suitor willing to take him off their hands.
Whether Green is part of the problem or working towards the solution is irrelevant. At this point, moving him in a trade that would push the Celtics closer to a championship is improbable to the point of absurd. Contracts like his are signed by desperate teams in last-ditch moments. And right now, that's exactly what the Celtics appear to be.
All statistics in this article were taken from Synergy Sports, Hoopdata.com and Basketball-Reference.com.