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Player Review: Gerald Green

by Mark Montieth | askmontieth@gmail.com

June 13, 2013, 10:20 AM

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Age: 27
Years Pro: 6
Status: Has two years remaining on a contract that pays $3.5 million per season
Key Stats: Averaged 7 points and 2.4 rebounds over 60 games, averaging 18 minutes per game; shot 31 percent from the 3-point line.

Gerald Green and the Pacers seemed made for one another last summer, when he signed a three-year deal. He needed stability and a winning team, and they needed athleticism and scoring off the bench.

It didn't work out as well as everyone anticipated, but there's hope. Barring a trade, the Pacers and Green have two more seasons together to work out a more productive relationship, so they might not have a choice but to try to learn to co-exist more successfully.

Green's career has taken him all over the world, through leagues both major and minor, as he's attempted to corral his athleticism. Drafted out of high school by Boston in 2005 with the 18th pick – right after the Pacers took Danny Granger – Green had the early look of a phenom. He scored 22 against the Pacers in Indy toward the end of his rookie season. He then averaged 10.4 points as a part-time starter his second season with the Celtics, when he won the NBA Slam Dunk contest over All-Star Weekend and scored 33 points against Atlanta -- a career high until he scored 34 in the Pacers' final regular season game this year. But, he was one of the five players the Celtics traded to Minnesota for Kevin Garnett following that season, and his career floundered from there. He played in Minnesota, Houston, Dallas and New Jersey, not to mention Russia, China, the NBA's Development League and the Los Angeles Lakers' summer league team.

He seemed to finally find traction in the 2011-12 season, when he made a 31-game pass through New Jersey. There, he averaged 12.9 points while shooting 48 percent from the field and 39 percent from the 3-point line. He was still erratic, averaging more turnovers than assists, but he had the ability to score quickly, and in prolific bursts that could alter the course of a game.

So, it seemed a good thing when the Pacers signed him. And it was, at times. He scored in double figures 12 times, and had good numbers as a starter, averaging 14 points over seven games while shooting 47 percent from the field and 40 percent from the three-point line. His 34-point game against Philadelphia, when all the starters but Lance Stephenson were held out, came on 14-of-23 shooting. For some, however, that only supported the notion that he's a player whose best moments come in garbage time rather than crunch time.

Green did not play in 21 games, and his shooting percentages plunged to 37 percent from the field and 31 percent from the 3-point line. He appeared in just nine of the 19 playoff games, for a total of 105 minutes, and barely at all in the second and third rounds.

Green lost his place in the rotation after a Jan. 16 game against Orlando, and played in just nine of the next 23. His season seemed to be revived at Cleveland on March 18 when he played 23 minutes and scored 20 points, hitting 4-of-7 three-pointers, and then played 20 minutes the next night against Orlando at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and scored 15 points. Both games were one-sided victories, so yes, there was that. But he seemed to show progress. In the win over Orlando, a 3-pointer that bounced high off the rim and through the net seemed fateful to Vogel, because it had come within the confines of the offense.

“We keep talking to Gerald about making the right system plays,” Vogel said after that game. “(The shot) went in and out and back in. That's just a sign that when you play within the rhythm of the offense, good things are going to happen for you.”

Green sounded like a reformed soul after that game.

“I feel like I've learned a lot,” he said. “Now I know how to score within the offense. I know which shots to take and which not to take.”

Green wasn't able to hold his place in the rotation, however. Looking back on the season, he was like an intermittent rainstorm, showing up now and then to shower points onto a game, but only erratically.

He showed no hints of a bad attitude, and accepted his DNP-CDs without visible complaint. So, how does he find steadier playing time? He'll need to bring more discipline to his game. He occasionally gets lost on defense, most notably when he gave up a game-winning layup off an inbounds pass in a loss at Minnesota on Nov. 9, and he tends to stray from the offense, relying too heavily on his crazy leaping ability and smooth shooting stroke.

Green has gone all over the world to keep his career alive, so figuring a way to contribute to the Pacers won't be his greatest challenge. The possible return of a healthy Danny Granger, however, threatens his opportunity for playing time, and could send him on yet another journey if he doesn't find a way to win over Vogel.

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