Should Boston Celtics Trade Jeff Green This Summer?

Grant Rindner@grantrindnerContributor IIIMay 2, 2014

This was supposed to be the season for Jeff Green to prove himself as a legitimate No. 1 option for the first time in his six-year career.

He didn’t, and now the versatile forward finds himself as a potential trade candidate for the rebuilding Boston Celtics.

Per the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy, Green is “eminently available” for a contender who sees him as a potential third or fourth option to put them over the hump.

Green led Boston in scoring at 16.9 points per game, but he floundered in most other areas on the court, and the team never did more than hang around the peripheries of the playoffs.

With three years and significant money still left on his contract, it makes sense that Danny Ainge and the front office are looking to offload him.

Finding a taker for Green won’t be easy, but it’s well worth the effort. He’s undoubtedly a gifted player, but he’s not a superstar and isn’t going to suddenly become one at 27 years old.

Now that we have a season’s worth of evidence that Green can’t be a quality team’s best player, let’s take a moment to consider why the Celts must ship him out of Boston.


His Contract

Boston locked Green into a four-year deal in the 2012 offseason, when the team was coming off of a run to the Eastern Conference Finals and looked like they still had some gas left in the tank.

That wasn’t the case, as they floundered to a 41-40 record and a first-round playoff loss in 2012-13.

By the time the 2013 draft rolled around, the rebuild was in full effect, and the C’s were left hoping Green could emerge as a marquee player, which he had never been before.

As we’ve seen and discussed, that simply didn’t happen.

Green’s contract is not crippling like Gerald Wallace’s given his production, but it’s also the kind of mid-level deal that is tough to move.

Jeff Green's Contract and Performance
2012-13$8.39 million15.0 PER12.846.7 FG%
2013-14$8.97 million13.1 PER16.9 PPG41.2 FG%
2014-15$9.45 million---
2015-16$9.45 million [PO]---

With the opportunity to draft another wing scorer in the lottery this summer, it’s tough to see Boston choosing to keep Green over getting an expiring contract or young asset.

Teams saw Green play uninspired basketball for much of the year and may be hesitant to make an $18.9 million commitment to him for two seasons.

The 2015-16 campaign is a player option, but it’s difficult to see a 29-year-old Green turning down that kind of money, unless he plays exceptionally well.

Still, there are teams like the Atlanta Hawks or Detroit Pistons that want to make the leap into playoff contention and could see Green as a missing piece.

They have enough movable parts and types of contracts to make these deals possible, and both have glaring needs at small forward.

Green’s deal will surely scare off some suitors, but it’s not bad enough to scare them all away.


His Play

Inconsistency has plagued Green for his whole NBA career, and the only thing shooting more did was magnify that.

Green told the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett, “…I don’t give a [expletive]” about his inconsistency in late March, but the C’s surely do.

In March alone, Green had five single-digit scoring games despite playing 34.2 minutes per night. He registered nine more in the rest of the campaign.

Green shot just 41.2 percent from the floor and 34.1 percent from three this season, while jacking up a career-best 4.8 shots from deep per game. He was not always willing to attack the basket, and that showed in his average shot distance.

In 2013-14, Green’s average attempt was 14.6 feet away from the hoop.

His next closest is 12.3 during his junior season, per Basketball-Reference.

There’s nothing wrong with being a volume scorer, but not one who favors threes and long twos over hard drives to the hole. Green is athletic enough to finish hard at the rim and play through contact, but he did not do that nearly enough.

He was also woeful on the glass, notching 4.6 boards per game. Green was 11th on the Celtics in total rebound percentage, trailing the likes of Vander Blue and MarShon Brooks, per Basketball-Reference.

He was further away from the basket handling the ball, but at 6’9”, Green should have been snagging at least five or six rebounds per game.

For a poor rebounding team like Boston (18th in the league at 42.5) that simply will not cut it. Factor in the fact that Green did little as a secondary playmaker, and it’s just tough to see him flourishing in 2014-15.

He did end the season on somewhat of a tear, posting 19.4 points, 4.7 boards and two assists on 46.7 percent shooting, but that’s the kind of production he should have been posting all season long.

Boston has a talented enough young core that keeping around an inefficient scorer like Green may not be necessary, and he simply did not show enough versatility in his game.


The Team’s Direction

With a full year of Rondo and development from Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, Boston should be better in 2014-15, but they won’t be contenders.

Not even close.

The Celtics will likely miss the playoffs again, and by the time 2015-16 rolls around, Green will be 29 years old and playing for a new contract. Obviously Boston shouldn’t trade all of its veterans just because the team had a down year, but there’s a big difference between keeping Rondo and keeping Green.

Rondo is an All-Star coming off of surgery who has proven himself in the playoffs, while Boston has won just one postseason series with Green healthy.

Green may have room for improvement, but he’ll never become the second All-Star Boston needs.

That second All-Star may very well come from the 2014 draft lottery, and it could very well be a forward like Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins or even Julius Randle. If the C’s ended up with one of those three studs, they wouldn’t want to have Green playing 30-plus minutes per game and stunting their development.

Even lesser talents like Kyle Anderson and Aaron Gordon would warrant play over Green.

Boston does not have much depth at small forward, but Chris Johnson has proven himself as an NBA player, and the C’s could always find a stopgap in free agency. The dumbest thing they could do would be to tie up more money in another mid-level player.

Green is certainly a talent, and he has a place starting for a contender, but he doesn’t fit with Boston’s current direction.

It’s in the Celtics’ best interests—and frankly Green’s, too—for a trade to be pursued.


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