NBA Free Agency: Will Jeff Green Reach His Potential with the Boston Celtics?

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NBA Free Agency: Will Jeff Green Reach His Potential with the Boston Celtics?
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The Boston Celtics made a qualifying offer today to forward Jeff Green, which makes him a restricted free agent. 

The NBA owners are expected to lockout the players at 12:01 tonight due to both sides’ inability to construct a new collective bargaining agreement. 

When the offseason begins, which could be a very long time from now if the players and owners can’t make a new CBA, the Celtics will have the ability to match any offer Green receives from other teams. 

With the uncertainty surrounding the lockout situation and the Celtics' ability to match Green’s offers, it is very likely that Green will be in Boston next season, and for the long-term. 

Green was acquired in a stunning and unforeseen trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, in which the Celtics sent center Kendrick Perkins to OKC among other players involved. 

Celtics fans were expecting Green to step right in and make a big contribution, but playing behind top players Paul Pierce and Ray Allen made it difficult for him to get adjusted in Boston. 

Green averaged 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game for the Celtics last season in about 24 minutes a game. 

For next season, the challenge for Green will be for him to take his game to the “next level” and become a real star.

One of the reasons the Thunder decided to part ways with Green last year was because he did not develop into the player they thought he’d be after his breakout 2008-09 sophomore season. 

In an ESPN Boston article by Chris Forsberg on June 30, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge talked about Green’s time with the Celtics in 2011. 

"I think what people don't realize is how hard it is to [change roles]," Ainge said immediately after the 2010-11 season ended.  

Ainge went on to say in the same article, "It's a different role and the expectations need to be different... [Green] gave us scoring, three-point shooting that we needed, along with good defense and some athleticism. I think Jeff was a bright spot, based on what my expectations were."  

The best way for Green to improve as a player and fit in better with the Celtics is simply to play more minutes. 

It’s possible Green might start at small forward next season, and Paul Pierce will come off the bench. 

Whether he starts or not, Green has to receive enough minutes to have a large role with the Celtics so he can help them with his scoring, athleticism and defense. 

Green has a lot of room for improvement and has many parts of his game that are already effective. He’s a good but inconsistent shooter, plays good defense, is effective in transition and plays with a lot of energy and athleticism. 

Should Jeff Green start over Paul Pierce next season?

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While the Celtics like Green as big part of the team moving forward, they will not overpay to keep him long-term. 

The Celtics are expected to have lots of room under the salary cap in the summer of 2012, and are believed to be a major player for a big time free agent, such as current Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard

Jeff Green is a very good player who still has a lot of improvement to be made in his game, but if someone wants to give him a contract he does not deserve, it would be foolish of the Celtics to match it. 

However, with the Celtics core aging and nearing retirement, having a player as young and talented as Green is something they have to develop for the future.

Nicholas Goss is an NBA and Oklahoma City Thunder Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, he currently attends Suffolk University in Boston. Follow him on Twitter for NBA news and analysis.

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