I've said it before, I'll say it again. I'm really, really pulling for Jeff Green. I really want him to succeed and I'm actually cautiously optimistic that he will. He's too young to have topped out his potential and "in the right system" I think he could thrive and flourish. I think that right system is in Boston.
None of that changes the fact that the Celtics are (reportedly) overpaying him. He's signing for the same amount as Ryan Anderson who won the Most Improved player award last year while Jeff Green recovered from a scary heart condition. Even before he sat out the year, he didn't prove that he's worth this kind of money.
The Thunder often used Green at power forward, where he has been a disaster, and it's possible he'll function much better as a small forward on a veteran team that prioritizes defense above all else. His numbers, and those of his team, have always been much better when Green is at small forward. But at this price, I'd want some piece of sustained data I could point to and say, "This player does Thing X well, and his team's scoring margin improved when he was on the floor over Extended Time Period Y."That track record doesn't exist with Green.
The payoff still doesn't seem right, though. Ainge appears to believe that Green can round himself into a Derrick McKey-type, which is admirable, but McKey's career 31 percent 3-point percentage would be out of place in today's spacing-intensive NBA despite his significant defensive gifts. Green shot 39 percent from behind the arc in his second season, but he's shot 31 percent in his three other seasons, so it's possible that his 2008-09 mark is a fluke at best. Sure, he could develop that stroke from the corner, but who pays a guy $9 million a year to develop?
I was fine with the $9M, one year deal, because it was a good "prove it" type of contract that wouldn't tie us to the player long term. Taking roughly that same figure and extending it out 3 or 4 years after a year when he medically wasn't allowed to "prove it" seems like a big gamble to me.
Essentially the Celtics are paying Jeff Green for what they assume that he'll become. This happens often in sports, so it isn't exactly breaking news. Still, it is worth noting. Beyond the Kevin Garnett signing, this might be the most critical move the team is making this summer. There's risk there.
Of course, with risk there's potential reward too. Like I said, I hope it works out. There's a chance that this deal could look like a bargain in 2 years. But that's free agency for you. We'll just have to wait and see how it turns out.