This could easily be an unnerving time for Jeff Green. Green, the former Georgetown star who finished last season as a reserve with the Boston Celtics, is a restricted free agent unable to negotiate a lucrative contract until the NBA and the players’ union can come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement. All he can do is wait and hope something gets done to save the season.
“I’ve dealt with it the best I can,” Green said in a phone interview. “I’ve tried to keep myself busy. I’m still trying to stay in the loop with things going on, but not letting it get to me. It’s tough to be in that position, to possibly be sitting out. But you just have to do what you have to do to make things happen and if it doesn’t, try to do things to take your mind off it and continue to work until you’re called back to work.”
Green has stayed occupied playing summer league basketball at the Kenner League and the Goodman League and participating in an all-star exhibition at Morgan State with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and his friend and former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Kevin Durant. “That was crazy. I loved it,” Green said of the atmosphere in Baltimore two weeks ago. “I was just ready to have that opportunity during the summer to play against Carmelo, LeBron, Chris Paul all on the same team. It felt good to get some reps in against those guys. Those are guys I’m going to see a lot in the upcoming year. It was cool to get some run with them.”
He has also committed to playing in a charity basketball game on Saturday at Calvin Coolidge High. And, he also plans to represent the Goodman League for an exhibition against the Indy Pro-Am at the Indiana Convention Center on Sept. 24. “If the lockout isn’t done by then and we’re able to go up there, I’ll be there,” Green said. “I’m trying to get some runs in, continue to stay in shape.”
Green doesn’t have a guaranteed contract for next season -- though the Celtics did pick up his $5.9 million qualifying offer to retain his rights depending on the stipulations of the next collective bargaining agreement -- but said the risk of injury hasn’t prohibited him from competing. “That’s why I have insurance. I’m all taken care of, so I just go out there and play basketball. Hopefully, I go out there and play injury free. But I’m covered, so it’s all good.”
Green had an eventful fourth season in the NBA, with him getting shipped from the Oklahoma City Thunder to Boston at the trade deadline. The move was startling for both teams, since Boston sacrificed a fan favorite in Kendrick Perkins and Green had joined Durant and Russell Westbrook in helping the franchise make the rapid switch from being one of the league’s dregs to one of the better teams in the Western Conference.
The Celtics forced Green to play many roles off the bench -- from defensive stopper to occasional offensive option when Paul Pierce or Ray Allen sat -- and he recently admitted to Yahoo! Sports that it was a challenge after being a starter in Oklahoma City.
After averaging 15.1 points with the Thunder, Green averaged 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 26 regular season games and 7.3 points and 2.7 rebounds in playoff games for Boston. Boston is expected to pursue him in free agency, but when asked if the Celtics were his first option, Green said, “I just want to play basketball, wherever it’s at. I love Boston and the city of Boston welcomed me with open arms when the trade happened. Boston is a great city.”
Miami eliminated Boston in the second round, but Green said he wasn’t upset to watch the Thunder advance to the conference finals in his absence. “I was happy for them. I’m still close with. Kevin is like my brother. I still talk to him every other day. Even after I got traded, I always kept in touch with him. I’m glad they went as far as they did. They deserved. They are a hardworking bunch and I still love those guys.”
Green said in May that he would consider returning home to play for the Wizards, but he also has a desire to stay in a playoff atmosphere after losing in the first round to the Lakers two seasons ago. “I’m getting further and further each year. I hope that continues every year,” he said.
Green won’t stress over where he winds up, whenever the next season begins. “Not at all. I have one of the best agents in the game, David Falk,” Green said. “He’s going to make sure I’m in a good position. He does his job and I do mine. I leave it up to him to try to make sure everything is intact when that time comes.”