Will the signing of Gerald Green push younger players to earn playing time?

Gerald Green returned from a hip flexor injury last Saturday, scoring 13 points against the Charlotte Hornets and looking more like the player that the Celtics organization had hoped for when they signed him in this summer’s free-agency.

The return of the athletic 30-year-old creates an intriguing conundrum for Boston’s coaching staff, as they try to decide who will be given minutes behind starting small forward Jae Crowder.

Due to Green’s experience in the league, head coach Brad Stevens may opt to use the established veteran during important stretches against more sophisticated defenses. The Texas native is a proven talent who can offer a scoring punch from the bench and poses a threat from the perimeter, helping his team to space the floor.

Green’s main competition for minutes will come in the form of #3 draft pick Jaylen Brown.

Brown’s upside is unquestionable and he possesses an NBA-ready body, seldom seen in 19-year-olds. Although he occasionally drives into traffic when he shouldn’t, he is also capable of making savvy plays during crunch time, as shown against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night:

Although Brown may be used as a small-ball power forward at times, his natural position is at small forward, so he will be forced to battle for minutes with Green. The competition will be healthy for the former University Of California standout, as he will be forced to work for a significant role in Stevens’ rotation.

Another player whose role will be challenged by Green is Terry Rozier. The 22-year-old has vastly improved during the offseason and may feature at shooting guard in a smaller line up. With an established scorer like Green in the rotation, Rozier needs to prove his value to the coaching staff with the tough defense and scoring ability that he has shown during summer league, as well as preseason.

As far as R.J. Hunter and James Young are concerned, Green’s presence presents a problem. Many Boston fans believe that both Hunter and Young’s development is taking longer than it should. Both have shown flashes of potential, but with the season just under two weeks away, they have some serious work to do if they hope to take minutes from the aforementioned wing players.

As one of only two Celtics players in their 30s (Al Horford is the other one), Green will be viewed as a worthwhile veteran to have in the locker room during the 2016-2017 season, which is one of the primary reasons he was brought back to Boston. Another unequivocally positive aspect of his signing however, is the way in which he will be able to push some of the young talent to work that little bit harder.

Follow Josh Coyne on Twitter at @poundcoyne

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