With only two weeks to go until training camp, it's time to start really analyzing this year's Celtics team. Therefore, over the next 15 days I'm going to go player by player, asking the biggest questions surrounding each of the 15 players currently under contract.
Every player has questions surrounding them as we enter camp, and that includes the newest Celtic — forward Donte Greene.
About Donte Greene: Greene played precisely one game last season in the Puerto Rican league after fracturing his ankle last August. He was originally drafted 28th overall in the 2008 NBA draft by the Grizzlies and then traded twice that summer before ending up in Sacramento with the Kings. In his four seasons in SacTown he averaged 6.1 points and 16.8 minutes per game over 253 contests.
Greene is not your prototypical 6'11" NBA player as his skill-set translates more to the small forward position than it does as a power forward or center. He's thin (226 pounds) and loves shooting threes, hoisting 4.6 three-pointers per-36 minutes over his career. Despite leave college five years ago, Greene is still only 25 years old.
Green was acquired by the Celtics in exchange for Fab Melo and $1.7 million. His contract is not guaranteed, but if he makes the team he'll make $1,027,424 this year. There is also a team option for 2014-15.
1. Will Greene make the team?
As mentioned above, Greene's contract is not guaranteed this season. Making things more tricky is the Celtics current cap situation. As of now, the Celtics 14 guaranteed contracts (not including Greene) total $71.22 million. With the luxury tax set at $71.7 million, keeping Greene around would bump the Cs about $500,000 over the tax. It's possible that even if they like Greene's game, the Celtics decide to pass on him because of the salary cap implications.
2. Is he healthy?
Greene was ready to sign a contract with the Nets last season before fracturing his ankle last August. The injury forced him to miss basically all of last season (he played in 1 game in the Puerto Rican league), meaning that he has barely played since the 2012 NBA season ended. The Grizzlies thought he looked good enough in a workout to sign him to a contract late last year, but he never appeared in a game for them. Obviously the Celtics will get a good look at him in training camp, and should be able to decipher pretty quickly whether or not the ankle is still bothering him. At the very least he figures to be rusty after playing in only one professional game in the past 17 months.
3. Will the Celtics look at him as a SF or a PF?
Let's pretend for a moment that the Celtics are not 100% sold on cutting Greene to save the money and that they plan on giving him a legitimate look in camp. If this is the case, Greene's chances may rely on what position the Celtics plan on using him at.
You see, Greene is 6'11" which in NBA terms means he's either a power forward or a center. Only he's not. He's a small forward who can run the floor (if that ankle is fine) and has the ability to shoot threes (granted his career 30.4% success rate isn't very good). He's a terrible rebounder, averaging only 2.4 boards per game over his career (and only 5.1 boards per-36 minutes, a lower number than Andrea Bargnani, who may be the worst rebounding big man in basketball), making it even more obvious that he's not meant to play down low.
There is also the little fact that the Celtics have four power forwards ahead of Greene on the depth chart in Brandon Bass, Kris Humphries, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk. This means that if the Celtics view him solely as a 4, he's probably out of luck. But if the Celts think he can play the three, he immediately becomes more valuable as Boston has only two players, Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace, who are small forwards. The biggest challenge for Green at small forward will be defensively, where it's tough to imagine someone so tall and lanky guarding the likes of LeBron, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Then again, Kevin Durant has been able to become a very good defender at the 3 despite being basically the same exact size as Greene. So it's not impossible.
Chances are Greene will not be here come opening night, as Boston is far more likely to go with a 15th man making $500,000 than it is one making over $1 million. But as of now Greene is here, and these are the questions we need answered.
Follow Mike on twitter - Mike_Dyer13 Michael Dyer 9/15/2013 06:46:00 PM Tweet Edit