Jeff Green Gets His Big Pay Day from Celtics, but Is He Worth It?

Morgan ChalfantContributor IIIJanuary 29, 2013

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 9: Jeff Green #8 of the Boston Celtics dunks the ball over Jermaine O'Neal #20 of the Phoenix Suns during the game on January 9, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

In August of 2012, the Boston Celtics announced that they would re-sign small forward Jeff Green to a whopping four-year, $36 million contract, as ESPN reported. As a result, Green is currently the Celtics’ third highest paid player, behind veteran Paul Pierce and star point guard Rajon Rondo.

This is a huge salary for a player who typically comes off the bench, and the contract set the bar extremely high for Green, who missed all of the 2011-2012 NBA season because of a heart condition.

Even after the astounding dunk over Chris Bosh that Green nailed halfway through the fourth quarter during Sunday’s game against the Miami Heat, Celtics fans and critics alike are still skeptical about Green’s worth. Is he really worthy of such a huge contract? If he’s not, can he become worthy of it with more consistency?

If Green does validate his worth, the key to such validation will be consistency, indeed. Though he may throttle past LeBron and dunk on Bosh, he certainly has some mediocre games. As a result, Doc Rivers cannot count on his play game after game.

On January 22 against Cleveland, Green had a disappointing field-goal percentage of .333, tallying only five points in 21 minutes of game play. Two nights later, his statistics look completely different; against the New York Knicks on January 24, Green had a field-goal percentage of .571 and picked up six rebounds and nine points. Even though Boston lost the game by a small margin, Green still looked good.

Because his statistics are so inconsistent, Green’s overall numbers for the 2012-2013 season seem pretty mediocre. He has a field-goal percentage of .428 and a three-point percentage of .329. He also averages 3.3 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 9.6 points in 23.8 minutes each game.

These aren’t bad, but they certainly aren’t worthy of the third heftiest contract on the team. They certainly don’t beat out Kevin Garnett, who has a three-year contract for about the same amount as Green’s four-year deal.

And ultimately, the statistics don’t do all the talking. Green may pick up a rebound or throw down a decent jumper, but he also travels. He also loses the ball. He also appears to get lost in the Celtics offense at times.

Moreover, his career statistics are generally higher than those of just this season, suggesting that Green may not be living up to his decent albeit inconsistent reputation from his past NBA seasons. In his career, Green averages a field-goal percentage of .443, 5.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 13.3 points in 23.8 minutes of game play.

Yet, this doesn’t take away from the fact that the Celtics—Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers and the whole gang—believe in Jeff Green. His contract makes power forward Brandon Bass’s deal look miniscule; Bass was signed for a three-year deal of just over $19 million with the Celtics.

According to ESPN, Green spoke to back in August about the forthcoming season and his future as an NBA player in general:

“I’ll still be the same player, but I think just my outlook on the time I have in this league has changed. I think I have to be more assertive, more aggressive in different areas, not necessarily just scoring. I just have to change my outlook and my approach of the game, and that time that I had off and seeing certain spots on the floor where I can help, really helped my mindset.”

Has he been more assertive? Has he been more aggressive? Perhaps during the game against the Heat on Sunday, and maybe throughout the game against the Knicks last Thursday. However, he has not proven himself consistently effective this season, and until he does, Green will not be worth the money that the Celtics are paying to keep him in Boston.

There’s still time this season, though, for Green to prove himself. He has already surmounted the largest uphill battle of his career by coming back to the NBA after undergoing serious surgery. About one year ago, Green was on the operating table, and now he’s back on the court. Green has potential; the deal the Celtics gave him certainly proves just that. Now, it’s time for Green to actually live up to that potential. It’s time for Green to earn his keep in Boston.