Rookie Tales ... with Jeff Green

As the Cavs Head to OKC, Jeff Green Looks Back on His Rookie Season
by Joe Gabriele
Cavs.com Managing Editor


Rookie Tales ... with Jeff Green

As the Cavs Head to OKC, Jeff Green Looks Back on His Rookie Season


We don’t want to make 10-year veteran Jeff Green feel old, but there are probably young NBA fans out there who don’t know what a Seattle SuperSonic is.

Jeff Green was a SuperSonic as a rookie. So was Kevin Durant.

And Seattle is where the low-key, high-energy forward got his NBA start – drafted with the fifth overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, three picks after the reigning Finals MVP.

Originally “selected” by the Boston Celtics, Green was part of a blockbuster Draft Day deal that sent Ray Allen to Beantown and brought the former Georgetown star (along with Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak) to the Emerald City.

And although – along with Durant – Green was named to the All-Rookie First Team after averaging 10.5 points, 4.7 boards and 1.5 assists in 52 starts, that first year wasn’t an easy one. It would be the Sonics final year in Seattle, having been sold the previous season and relocating to Oklahoma City – where they were renamed the Thunder.

That’s where the suddenly-hot Cavaliers are headed on Tuesday night in the final game before the Break. And that’s where Cavs.com checks in with this installment of Rookie Tales, where we talked to Jeff Green about his freshman campaign in the Pacific Northwest …

A young Jeff Green strikes a pose for his rookie photo shoot.
Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images


Fans sometimes talk about re-doing certain Drafts based on what we know now. If they re-did 2007, you’d probably go No. 5 overall again. Do you ever think back about that Draft?

Jeff Green: I honestly don't ever think about it.

As the years go by, the memories go with it. I know we had a good group of guys come out that year. I guess right now, maybe you could say I was the fifth-best player in that Draft, but a lot of people didn't think so at the time.

Did you ever think you’d end up in Boston in that Draft, or did you know immediately you’d be going to Seattle?

Green: I knew I was going to Seattle when they picked Kevin (Durant). So, I was already prepared for the trade and everything.

I'd never been to the West Coast; never been to Seattle. I knew it was far. (Laughs) But it was just a blessing to get drafted, so I wasn't complaining about the travel.

Was there any culture shock – a kid going from the East Coast to an eclectic West Coast city like Seattle?

Green: Well, Seattle’s a great city, an amazing city. It's a city that deserves an NBA team. But I consider myself as being very adaptable -- being able to adapt to my surroundings, my environment. And that's what I did when I moved to Seattle.

There were great people there who greeted me with open arms and made me feel welcome. So, I'm forever thankful to the city of Seattle and the organization.

Did you and your teammates know that this would be your last year there? How did it affect you?

Green: Yeah, we knew. Because the owner, Clay Bennett, came out and said he was moving to Oklahoma City.

It didn't mess me up, but I think it messed up the connection between the city and the SuperSonics. Because they wanted to support the team, but they didn't want to support the owner.

So, they didn't support us and therefore the connection between the team and the fans was strained. There was a lot of tension between the city and the team.

It was a tough year for the city.

"I knew my thing was to go out there and just play basketball and just do the best I could to help the team."

Jeff Green on putting distractions aside in his rookie year

Was there any pressure on you, coming in with another high Draft pick like Kevin Durant in that first year?

Green: There wasn't any pressure at all.

We were young, we were in a stage of rebuilding. They traded Rashard (Lewis) the year before. They traded Ray (Allen). So, they were trying to rebuild, but not really – if that makes sense.

And me and Kevin, we grew up with each other, so we were connected in a certain way beyond basketball.

What was your previous relationship with Durant?

Green: He's younger, but in my circle. I knew people in his circle and vice versa. And our family knew each other, so it was easy for us to adapt as far as establishing a relationship with each other.

The team also pulled off a pretty sizeable deal with the Cavaliers that year – involving your teammates Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak. Did that have any bearing on your rookie season?

Green: Not really. But then again, I knew Delonte because he's from Maryland and I'm from the same area. I knew of Wally (Szczerbiak).

But I didn't put any concern in my mind about the trade. I knew my thing was to go out there and just play basketball and just do the best I could to help the team.

You and Durant each made the All-Rookie First Team that year. Did that aid your development moving forward?

Green: I mean, as a rookie, that's all you can ask for as a development that allowed me to become a good player -- and I continued to grow throughout the year.

Standard question: Which veterans took you under their wing that year?

Green: Kurt Thomas was definitely a guy who was a great, great veteran who came to work every day and showed me what it what it took to be a continued veteran in this league, to play as many years as he did.

Chris Wilcox, also. Earl Watson. Damien Wilkins was a great vet for me and Kevin.

We had a good team of great guys and I'm always thankful for that.

And who was toughest on the rooks?

Green: Wally was the only one that made us do all that stuff. Papers, bagels every morning from a certain spot.

But I didn't mind it. Wally has his ways.

Cavs Special Message to Fans

Members of the Wine & Gold send a special thank you to the best fans in the NBA for their support during the 2017-18 season.

Rookie Tales with Jeff Green

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