Post-game Reactions

Is Jeff Green just a four-month rental for the Celtics?

On the back of his not-quite-epic 8-point, 7-rebound, 3-block night against the Sixers, there’s a sense that perhaps he’s turned a corner, or he’s on the verge of it. That may be true. His 3-9 shooting notwithstanding, Green put together one of his more comfortable games wearing green.

There’s no disputing that his defining moments as a Celtic will come in the playoffs. It’s impossible to pass final judgment on what has been, effectively, a two-month in-season training camp. And everyone — Green included — is focused on the need for him to become more assertive and involved in the offense.

That seems a likelihood.

But it’s still hard to see how he fits this roster long term.

SI’s Zach Lowe recently reaffirmed the common wisdom on Green. And what was true of him in Oklahoma City remains true in Boston: he’s not a power forward. Lowe pulled data from the top-10 Celtics’ lineups featuring Green (by minutes) and notes that with him on the floor, the Celtics have scored 110.5 points/100 possessions, an elite figure. But on defense, they have allowed a disastrous 108.6 points/100 possessions.

Writes Lowe:

Green’s team is playing far worse, defensively, with him on the floor. The sample size is small — only about 172 minutes — but the fact that we’re seeing this same trend repeat itself in Boston is not encouraging. … With Green on the floor, Boston has defended at about the level of the Nets and Rockets, who rank 20th and 21st in points allowed per possession, respectively.

Parse the numbers a bit more, and a second trend is repeating itself, one that might temper the bad news a bit: Most of this deluge of opponent scoring is coming when Boston plays Green at power forward. Considering only these 10 lineups, opponents have scored about 123 points per 100 possessions when Green is at the “4.” That number would embarrass the Raptors. The bad news: The lineup in which Green has logged by far the most minutes features him at power forward alongside Boston’s core four of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. This group has played 46 minutes together, triple the number of minutes Green has played with any other foursome.

The good news: Seven of these 10 lineups feature Green at small forward, and those lineups have done quite well defensively — about as well as Boston’s elite season-long number.

Doc Rivers has made much of the Celtics’ winning the 2008 title on the back of a lineup with James Posey at the 4-spot, and Kevin Garnett at the 5. Of course, he rarely mentions that Posey had the ability to defend the four-spot and rebound at that same position, while Green does not.

At least not unless opposing teams are going small.

Which may cast the unflattering numbers above in a more charitable light if likely Eastern Conference playoff opponents Philly/New York, Miami and Chicago go small — or are forced to go small, assuming that’s Boston’s intention.

Plus, Green looks like he’s a strong fit as a backup to Paul Pierce, which alone might be the difference maker for the Celtics in the postseason. Green’s ability to handle long minutes might keep Pierce’s offense from flaming out like it did against Cleveland last year, like it has the potential to do again this year. You can’t overstate how important it is for Pierce to be energized enough to attack the paint and get to the line, especially for a Boston team that struggles to score. Green putting up a 3-9 shooting line against Miami would look a lot rosier if his defensive efforts led to Pierce going 12-16, or something similar.

Still, succeed or fail this spring, do you keep Green after the season knowing he’ll hurt you on defense if you play him as a combo forward? Do you keep him knowing you have Pierce locked in for three more years at his best position: the SF?

To re-up Green essentially means to stick him on the bench, and he’s almost certain to want more than reserve money come the offseason. The new CBA could sabotage his desires, of course, but GMs make a lot of bad decisions every summer. That’s not going to change. All it takes is one executive worried about his job security to push a player’s cost beyond his worth.

I wonder what Danny Ainge is thinking here. Does he have serious interest in resigning Green?

I have my doubts.

To be clear, I’m still very much on the fence on the Green acquisition. It’s all about the playoffs, and if he helps bring home a title, and then walks away for big money elsewhere, I’d have no complaints.

I can’t say I’d feel the same about committing to him for the long term at starter-level money, just to avoid losing an asset.

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Ryan DeGama

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  • MikeD

    It's hard to believe Danny makes that trade without the intent of keeping Green long term. Teams will be reluctant to make offers where he is a restricted free agent, so Boston has a decent chance of signing him for a fair price

  • MP!

    I will be very angry if they don't keep him. He's a valuable player. Not worth giving up Perkins for a rental.

    • It's well documented that Ainge would have trouble keeping Perkins in free agency. If we get a 4 month rental and cap space out of it… at least better than nothing.

      With that said, I hate that we lost Perkins. I'm gonna cheer for him everywhere he goes.

      • MP!

        Yes, but if you could have Perkins for 4 months or Green for 4 months…who would you pick?

    • dslack

      I sincerely hope Danny gave up Perkins because he thought it makes the Celtics a better team this year, not because he was planning for the future. (I personally think it made the Celtics worse this year, but that's irrelevant; I'm not the one who's paid to make these decisions.)

      If Danny can't re-sign Green for reasonable money (and Green's agent sounds like he wants LOTS of money), then he absolutely shouldn't re-sign him. The surest way to NBA purgatory is overspending on marginal talent (like Jeff Green).

      • MikeD

        The thing is that Green is in a tough position to demand LOTS of money as a restricted free agent. Team's will be reluctant to offer him a deal where the C's will have a week to match and essentially tie up the offering teams payroll while other free agents are being taken off the market. So the only way to be sure the C's won't match is to throw a highball offer at him and that isn't likely especially with the new CBA coming. So im pretty confident danny will be able to resign him at a fair price

        • Ryan DeGama

          Fair points. But do you think he'll be happy as a backup, Mike? Because that's the only job Boston has available.

          I'd think he's going to get offers to start.

          • Chris O

            I don't think he gets too many offers and would choose just to start over being a bench player when he may actually start in 2012-2013 over Pierce (yes seriously) when we have a front unit of Dwight, BBD, Green, Rondo and player X with Pierce, KG and Ray Ray as backups….

  • I was a Seattle Sonics fan for years, and I can't shake the feeling that Green is Vladimir Radmanovic 2.0. This worries me.

    If we let him go, we can use that space to sign another quality player. Lots of guys will want to play in Boston every offseason as long as we have that core 4.

    • MP!

      Radmanovic can hit threes.

      • Good point. I was comparing "feelings" instead of actual tangible skills… basically waiting around for someone to realize potential only to be teased by the occasional good game

  • kricky

    I don't see the point of giving Green big bucks if we have Paul locked up and Green can't play the 4. I think we can probably get a backup 3 for cheaper on the market. And Green probably would only be happy as a bench player if we were contending for a championship again. He's not taking that starting spot away form the Cap'n so he may want to move on.

    Since the trade I've been saying that I really don't like Green's game as a fit for this team. He really isn't a great one on one defender and he doesn't spread the floor well because he isn't a great 3 point shooter either (Posey did both of these things for for us).

    However, I will be ecstatic if he proves me wrong about and helps us win the title.

  • Zee

    Sometimes these statistics get on my nerves, because they usually state a number or stat as the gospel of Jesus Christ, but ignore other factors that could indeed affect that "stat." For example, it would be more accurate to state how many points Green's defense has allowed against the man he's guarding. When he is on the floor, there are four other players on the floor who may also be responsible for that poor defensive stat. To lay it all on Green, or if somehow his presence on the floor is the cause if it is VERY misleading. Perhaps the loose end is another player that is on the floor who is poor defensively, yet is also good on offense.

    Let's take all things into account.

    • Phil

      Both articles mentioned the small sample size. No stat is perfect, and its an even more inexact science when dealing with a small time frame. That said, you don't need stats to look at a Davis/Green front court and yell 'OH GOD WHAT IS DOC DOING?!" The Celtics defense is so predicated on scheme and help defense that individual statistics are likely much more misleading. Stats like efficiency when a player is on the court work better when talking about five man units in general, and that's surely the case here.

      Personally, I think Green can play better at PF than he has so far, but any idea of ever using the Davis/Green front court needs to be destroyed right now. The less Green plays PF, the better, but I don't think pulling the efficiency statistics into the positives, or at least near even is out of the question.

      • Zee

        But the point is that the same stat my prove true for another player who is on the court at the same time. Therefore, that stat may not be as reliable, because it doesn't necessarily pin point the cause, but only leading to the area of it. That's like knowing where the murder took place, but not knowing which resident committed the crime.

        • Phil

          One player negatively affecting Green's stats wouldn't account for the aggregate stats among different lineups that we have here. You're saying that KG might be the problem for the big 4 + Green line, but Baby or Kristic suddenly becomes the problem when he plays with the bench? Green at the 4 is the constant among these terrible defensive numbers, a coincidence like you describe just doesn't make sense. Its a major hole in the defense, there's no real evidence otherwise.

          Regardless of the stat though, do we really need stats to tell us that Green can't defend 4s? Has anyone watched a game and came away impressed with his defense at any point in his career? I'm all for challenging stats, but let's wait until they're saying something that's not clearly backed up by the untrained eye.

          • Zee

            Without know what other men are on the floor with him at the time these stats are to be considered AND what stats show for them as well, it is not possible to take them seriously. Who is on the floor when he is at these times are also a "stat" within themselves. That information should also be known.

            We act like Green is an absolute terrible defender. That's not the case. He should definitely improve his D.

            My "beef" with the stat is that if you provide a stat, provide a fully rounded one. My intelligence feels somewhat insulted when they are thrown out there and I'm just supposed to buy it at face value. Not gonna happen. 🙂

          • Zee

            All I'm asking for is more evidence. Don't just give me a stat. Stats are relative to other stats generally.

          • TRX

            The point of using a bigger sample size for a statistic like +/- is exactly to drown out the noise of different teammates. Statistically speaking, taking aggregates is a very powerful tool and often leads to most statistics falling back to a normal distribution, making comparison valid. It's not like he only plays with one set of players when he's on the floor.

    • Batman

      thats true for small samples sizes and sometimes when you use the eyetest the statistics are wrong, BUT statistics are the best measure of testing things. Green is not a good defender at the 4. Statistics tell us what the eye test doesn't do for us.

      • Zee

        I didn't say anything was wrong with statistics. In context, I said that you must take all things into account for better accuracy, else people will jump on your statistic as the end-all-be-all.

        My very last sentence was "Let's take all things into account." You can't knock that.

  • Shut_Up

    zach, if JA Adande can get away with it, you should be able too. i know you work for a different spot now, but C'MON SON! we know you're celtics folk.

  • talesofJP

    No reason to trade Perk if we're not keeping Green. I think if he accepts the bench role he'd be a great 6th man. Almost no way Baby resigns with us once his contract is up, I think he wants to be a starter and make big money.

    • dslack

      Quite the contrary, as I said above. Trading perk should have had NOTHING to do with keeping Green. I really hope that, with a team that was arguably the best in the NBA and an aging cast of characters, Danny made all moves with an eye toward WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP THIS SEASON. Not toward the future.

      This summer, it will be Danny's job to look to the future, and my judgment is that re-signing Green for anything except a huge "hometown" discount would be a mistake.

      • Chris O

        I think Danny did go for 'WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP THIS SEASON' however also the future. As long as either JO or Shaq are healthy and to u have Krstic (all 3 even more so) you don't need Perk. We did need a backup 3

  • BillC

    Batman, statistics are only the best measure when they satisfy criteria to be statisically significant, including representative sample, degrees of freedom and causation rather than correlation. Also, you need to set up the test to perform it…

  • kricky

    Stats are a bit over rated in this case where what you are trying to gauge is actually observable. It's not like the coaching staff can't re-watch his minutes on tape and see if Green's defense sucked or not.

    • Zee


    • TRX

      The point of finding a legitimate statistic, in this case, is to minimize the amount of work necessary. Sure, you could go back and look at every single minute, watching, rewinding, and watching again… or you could look at one number or a set of numbers that tell you the same thing.

      I'm not saying +/- is perfect; I'm speaking very hypothetically, when a perfect measure of defence is found.

      • Chris o

        I don't know TRX, there is an eye test and their are statistics. Both are great but sometimes one tells what others don't. The best way I can explain this would be the sport of football. Gaudy stats or even an amazing combine don't always tell what the 'eye test' does. Neither is perfect or 100% but a guy can have incredible stats and immeasurables (great 40, great vert, great bench) and suck at playing with the eye test. I know that is not the exact same thing here. Conversely the eye test can lie where 'Big Papi' is the greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox history based on what we remember but really his stats pan out the same as many other players. If you feel I just toed the line between everyone's arguments guess what I just did.

        • TRX

          That's because a great 40, great vertical and great bench only tell you how great of an athlete they are; athleticism does not translate into great player on its own. What you have here are stats that don't actually measure what you want them to measure. Hypothetically, a perfect stat measures what you want and reliably. That's the fundamental issue with statistics. It's very difficult to get them to measure exactly what you want (ex: PER) and/or reliably (ex: single season +/-).

  • I_Love_Green

    Oh man tomorrow's game against Chicago just got a lot bigger for us. Miami is about to lose to the Bucks, which puts us 1/2 a game ahead of the them. If we win tomorrow we're 1 ahead of them, and then the game sunday against them could put us up 2 or more games on them. These next 3 games are huge for us if we want the 2 seed, and even possibly the 1 seed.

  • fanman

    Is it possible that pierce can shift to the two following next year, once ray's deal is up? Green at the 3, paul at the 2, goodbye to ray (sad face)
    . I doubt paul could really do that job, but it's not the worst approach to get bigger. quick 2's will probably be torching him, but he'd be killing the jodie meeks and kyle korvers with ten-ft elbow jumpers and post ups the other end…

    • I_Love_Green

      After next year, Pierce will be way too old to try and guard the opposing teams 2 guards. If anything Green would be at the 2, and Pierce would be at the 3. It would be like it was when Pierce and Antoine were on the team, and Pierce was younger so he played the 2 and 'Toine played the 3.

      • Chris O

        No he didn't, Pierce played the 2 in spots and 3 as well but Toine player MOSTLY the 4, and a terrible 4 he was.

    • MP!

      Ray has another year left on his deal. This current Celtic team ought to be intact for one more year.

  • Julien the French

    you guys at Celtics Hub are fun to read but sometimes you make me want to go away from this blog so much. I know journalists in general make very dramatic statements when it is not necessary. But from a blog like this one, supposed to be exclusively studying the Celtics and rooting for them, the kind of statement made in this last entry is just annoying.

    I mean yes, Jeff Green has had trouble getting on track on defense, but that's only because he comes from a team that does not base its game on defense. And OKC is the only team that this young kid has seen so far. A defensive game like last night, and the monster block he made at the very end of it, shows us how this kid, if he is coached properly, can be a good defender.

    I am not sure if he has what it takes to be the next Paul Pierce, but please, you guys try to be a little more optimistic getting closer to the playoffs. Those dramatic entries make me read your blog less, way less.


    • I_Love_Green

      Hate to burst your bubble, but OKC is a defense first type team. Thats the main reason for their big improvement last year. Also, a help side block does not mean he'll be a good defender. It wasn't even his man that he blocked, so that shows nothing about his on ball defense.

    • CG12

      I think one can watch Green play and reasonably conclude that he is a bad defender, without being a Negative Nelly. That is the conclusion I have come to. He is not without hope, as he has the height and quickness to potentially be a good defender (see the 3 blocks last game), but he doesn't seem to have the junkyard dog mindset the Cs thrive on while playing D. He plays pretty soft for a guy his size and doesn't seem to have the knack of maintaining good defensive position. Baby is also a poor positional defender. Both guys seem to be decent-to-good one-on-one defenders, but bad team defenders, and the Celtics are intensely focused on good team defense. Green is a very talented player, but he hasn't shown me the intensity and aggressiveness I like to see.

      • Julien the French

        "he hasn't shown me the intensity and aggressiveness I like to see."—> not yet, because he has not had time to be defensively brainwashed by Doc and KG. If he is not a lazy ass young selfish player, he might work his ass off focusing on defense….but this will happen if he stays in Boston, if Doc stays in Boston, if KG does not retire…..so it depends on a lot of "ifs"

  • CarlosR

    Let's wait for the playoffs. If we end up winning the tittle with a solid contribution from Green, then we will forget the Perkins trade. Right now, I think Danny is going to make a real efford to sign Green. Danny wants to win now and he thinks Green, along with Krstic, will help the team to do so, but he's also beginning to rebuild the roster given the fact that Garnett, Pierce and Allen are getting older with every game.

    • MP!

      I agree. Way too early to judge the trade.

  • Zee

    TO: Lakes GM
    TO: Kobe Bryant

    Subject: You just lost three in a row

    Message: Ditto


    Celtics Fans

    • Tom W

      oh man. I've been waiting for someone to say that. Thank you. haha.

  • Janos

    Is so close to playoff team are make tense for win. Look forward to Celtic push to Laker meet finals.

    • Zee

      Why do we want the Lakers to make it to the Finals?

      • MP!

        I don't. Rather see the Spurs.

        • Zee

          Exactly. We look better if we make it and Lakers don't.

          • Tom W

            Actually, since we are making a wishlist, can we not see Oklahoma City either? If they can make the Finals this year, they could put the fear of God into Celtics fans.

  • james patrick

    Green won't stay. if we didn't have the money to pay Perk as a starting Center, why would we have the money to pay Green t be a back up to Paul? Green is going to want starter cash. Again, why I am so angry about the Perk trade. But it is what it is. Let's just focus on finishing strong, getting the most out of him, the worrying about next season during the Summer!

  • TRX

    Considering OKC is half a point better than league average this season in PPP (not an insignificant difference) and was 8th last season (sitting 3.3 points under league average), I'd say they know a thing or two about playing defence.

    And seriously, this piece was not very negative at all – more realistically looking at Green and Green in the context of the trade. No team is perfect; no team has absolutely nothing that's less than perfect. Not talking/posting about them doesn't make them go away.

  • Zee

    Incorrect. I didn't say I wasn't buying numbers at face value. I said that for this stat, other numbers and factors certainly come into play. Read my statements in context. As well, stats should be within context. That's the whole point.

    • TRX

      RIght. And in this context, you are "aggressively attacking the numbers and asking rhetorical questions". Also, not buying numbers at face value is a direct quote from you at the end of your third post in this… comment line? The whole context of +/- is a comparison to 0 and/or other players. Above 0 good. Below 0 bad.

      And again, for why +/- works, refer to the post right above the one you replied to. Unless you play with the exact same group of players every single time.

      You're welcome.

  • Morpheus

    First of all those numbers CAN be misleading. In regards to lineups, we haven't had a healthy rotation of centers all season long. Our backup at C has been Baby??? and a little KG.

    I know the small lineup with Posey at the 4 and KG playing the 5 was a solid lineup at both ends, but KG was a better defender back then, we all know that and Pose was peaking. So even with Green playing the 4 and KG at the 5, though the "numbers" may tell you that lineup is very average defensively, we need to take into consideration of many other things also.

    There are other factors at work here, not just Green this and that, laying all our defensive deficiencies on Green is ABSURD.

    • Ryan DeGama

      I don't think anyone is laying all our defensive deficiencies at Green's doorstep. Which would be absurd.

  • I think the one thing that hasn’t been mentioned in the comment section is how valuable Jeff Green is as a trade piece. Green instantly gives the Celtics a strong backup for Ray and Paul and he gives us the option to go small and fast. But if you think about it, he’s a Restricted Free Agent which means they can match any upcoming offer. We are about to enter a lockout and we might not have enough time to give out huge deals in Free Agency. If Green comes back for the Qualifying Offer or a little raise then the Celtics have created a good enough package to go after Dwight Howard. If Avery Bradley develops, then you have Green, Bradley and an Unprotected Clippers draft pick to throw at Orlando if Howard asks for a trade. Ofcourse the Magic don’t want to send him to Boston but they might not have a choice. The Celtics cap space will be looking nice in 2 years. Rondo and Howard could potentially be a great defensive starting point and you can add a true scorer with them once Pierce retires. Danny Ainge hasn’t stopped the Celtics from winning a championship this, it just means the C’s have to win in other ways we are not accustomed to. This trade helps us now and in the future. #poyg

    • Chris O

      Agreed, and I actually think they could keep Green and get Howard as well in 2012. Then you resign Ray and KG for 2 years at vet minimum and have the big three coming off the bench for the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons….mark it on your calendar.