"What could have been" is probably going to haunt Jeff Green for a while. Let's go down the list, shall we?
- What if he wasn't traded by the Thunder? Would he be in the Finals right now?
- What if the Celtics never made that trade? Green wouldn't be constantly compared to Kendrick Perkins.
- What if the Celtics medical staff never thought to look for his heart condition? (That's scary)
- What if he didn't have that condition and was able to play this year? Could he have been the extra edge this team needed to get past the Heat?
So many "what if's" with Jeff Green. But that was the past. What matters now is his future. There are larger issues for Celtics fans to ponder at this moment. The end of an era, the question of which stars will be returning, etc. But somewhere muddled in with all that is a pretty important question going forward. What does Danny Ainge intend to do about Green?
Then there's Jeff Green. He may be an unrestricted free agent, but he has been a Celtic in mind and spirit all season. Assuming he's OK, I can't see him not signing with Boston, probably for something in the neighborhood of what he had agreed to before his heart condition ($9 million). Or maybe he'd take a little less annually in return for more years.
It's hard to see Ainge letting him go anywhere else, especially since he's all that's left (along with the No. 22 pick in this year's draft) from the Kendrick Perkins deal. The Celtics did everything right with Green, including withdrawing their qualifying offer to give him more flexibility. While that gives Green a lot of options, the Celtics should be at the top of his list.
I still get a nervous tick when I hear that line of reasoning. You don't sign a guy to make a prior move look a little better. If Ainge is any good at his job (and I think for the most part he is), he will forget the past and evaluate the present as it stands.
I like Green as a person and I think he's got some real valuable talent. With that said, I understand his limitations and I'm concerned about his game after a year away from the sport. I think he could be an excellent role playing starter on a contender. Just don't expect him to be a star.
So is Green worth $9M a year? Perhaps if it is just one year, but I'd rather go lower for multiple years. Also, even if the Celtics don't necessarily believe in him as a long term option, I think they'd be wise to hang onto him if only as a trade chip. But it all depends on what else Ainge decides to spend his cap space on this summer.
So what's next for Jeff Green? I don't know, but I'm really hoping it isn't another set of "what if's."