Brooklyn Nets Media Week: Jeff Green Reunites with Kevin Durant

A brief stopover in Houston last season offered a new perspective on Jeff Green, with the NBA’s continued drift toward smaller, spread-out lineups turning the 6-foot-8 forward into a center in his 12th NBA season.

“It wasn’t a big adjustment,” said Green. “Obviously, at the end of the day, I go out there and just play basketball. Throughout my career, no matter how many teams I’ve played with, I’ve always been somebody who’s going to be versatile, whether it’s bringing the ball up the floor, posting, playing on the perimeter, guarding 1 through 5, I’ve done it my whole career. Playing the 5, it’s not really playing the position, it’s going out there and fulfilling a spot on the floor and try to find open spots to knock down shots and create opportunities for my teammates.”

Green played just 18 games for the Rockets after signing on in February after being waived by Utah, but he shot 56.4 percent over that stretch, and attempted 4.4 3-pointers per game, shooting 35.4 percent. His rate of 6.9 3-pointers attempted per 36 minutes while with the Jazz and Rockets last year was by far the highest rate of his career.

It was enough that Nets coach Steve Nash is likely looking at Green as primarily a small-ball center for Brooklyn after the Nets signed him as a free agent. It doesn’t hurt that Mike D’Antoni, Green’s coach in Houston last season, has joined the Nets as an assistant coach.

“We get an incredible vet in our locker room,” said Nash. “He has a great way about him. Incredible person, personality to help lead and give us that veteran presence. As far as on the floor, he is obviously very versatile and he is a guy who came into the league as a perimeter player. But now I think honestly his best position is at center, so he gives you that small ball five. It is a pleasure to be able to coach him, have him fit into our group, to help him get on board as quickly as possible is a pleasure because he is such a great guy and he brings a different profile to our team.”

Some of Green’s connections within his new team run deeper. While he and Kevin Durant both grew up and played their high school ball in the Washington, D.C. area, Green is two years older, so it wasn’t until the pair were teamed as rookies with the Seattle Sonics in 2007 that they grew closer, connected by mutual friends.

They played together for three-and-a-half seasons in Seattle and Oklahoma City before Green was traded to Boston in 2011.

“I’m excited for this opportunity to play alongside him, watching him, all the wonderful things he’s done throughout his career, being a fan of the game and also being a fan of him and rooting for him, because he represents where we come from,” said Green. “It’s great to see. I’m just happy I can come here and try to do my part in winning a third ring, and hopefully get my first. This is going to be fun.”

Green brings career averages of 13.0 points and 4.4 rebounds to Brooklyn as he joins his 10th NBA team. Getting acclimated to new surroundings is something he’s worked through before, but doing so in the midst of a pandemic — something that also brought limitations to offseason work — has been the new challenge.

“Making the adjustment, going to a new team, new personnel, not having a chance to actually play with these guys, just getting up and down, getting a rhythm and everything, that’s been the hardest part of the offseason, not having the opportunity to get runs in,” said Green. “Obviously, they were taking place in other places, but I wasn’t about that travel life during this pandemic. I stayed at home and I kept to myself. I’m looking forward to practices start to get the opportunity to actually get going and playing. I’m actually looking forward to practice. I can honestly say that.”