Jeff Green Heart Surgery: Boston Celtics Won't Survive Schedule Without Green

Josh MartinNBA Lead WriterDecember 17, 2011

MIAMI, FL - MAY 03: Jeff Green #8 of the Boston Celtics warms up before Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on May 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida. 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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics' NBA title hopes took a serious blow on Saturday with the news that Jeff Green would miss the entire 2011-12 season on account of surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm.

According to Boston.com, Green's malady was detected by the Celtics' doctors during his physical on December 9th, after signing a one-year, $8 million deal to return to Beantown. The Celtics acquired Green last season, along with forward Nenad Krstic and a future first-round pick, in a trade that sent Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Celtics had been counting on Green, a versatile 25-year-old forward, to serve as their sixth man and their primary front-court reserve behind Kevin Garnett (35) and Paul Pierce (34) as those two aging stars, along with Ray Allen (36), attempt to lift the C's to one last title before the Big Three's window of opportunity slams shut.

Without Green, Celtics coach Doc Rivers will have to rely on benchwarmers Marquis Daniels and Sasha Pavlovic to spell his geriatric juggernauts during what figures to be an absolutely brutal season. The C's condensed 66-game schedule includes stretches of seven games in 11 days in January, six games in nine days in February and March and another seven games in nine days in April.

That sort of punishment would be difficult for even the youngest legs. As for the Celtics, they're among the oldest teams in the NBA, with an average age of more than 28 years—a tad bit younger than last year's team, but still aged at the positions of greatest consequence.

Granted, Green is hardly the All-Star that Celtics GM Danny Ainge probably thought he'd be when he selected him fifth overall in the 2007 NBA Draft, before promptly shipping him off to the then-Seattle Seahawks in a deal for Ray Allen.

Still, Green is a valuable, jack-of-all-trades-type forward who would've given Boston some depth up front in a season wherein fresh legs will be so desperately needed. 

Instead, the C's must hope that Green makes a full and healthy recovery, as he's expected to do, so he can return in time for the 2012-13 season, when the team will likely embark on Year 1 of a full-scale rebuilding project. For now, the team will simply have to hope there's enough in place to carry it through the Eastern Conference, against the likes of the Miami Heat, the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks.

No easy task with Green, and certainly no easier without him.