|Former Celtic Gerald Green (9 points) drives past crrent Celtic Tony Allen. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)|
The agent for the Timberwolves' seldom-used swingman, Gerald Green, an ex-Celtic, hopes to get his client a better playing opportunity in another NBA uniform.
Green's agent, Byron Irvin, told the Globe yesterday that he asked Wolves vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale and general manager Jim Stack in early January if they would trade his client. Green is making $1.4 million this season and the Wolves have declined his option for next season, thus making him an unrestricted free agent this summer. The trading deadline is Feb. 21.
"I thought it was going to be a formality that they wanted to take his option, especially since he is a player coming out of high school," said Irvin, an ex-NBA player who is Celtics coach Doc Rivers's cousin, in a telephone interview. "His first year he averaged 5 points and his second year he averaged 10. You can see the development and the growth.
"When they didn't take the option, the first question I had immediately is whether he is in Minnesota's long-term goals. You have to give that time to answer the question. And after he hasn't played much through 41 games, I would have to say the answer to that question is no."
Green was the 18th overall pick in the 2005 draft by the Celtics out of Houston Gulf Shores Academy. The athletic 6-foot-8-inch, 200-pounder averaged 5.2 points in 31 games as a rookie with Boston. He averaged 10.4 points in 81 contests last season and won the 2007 All-Star Slam Dunk competition. Lakers star Kobe Bryant said last season that Green "reminds me of myself when I first came into the league."
On July 31, Green, Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, and Theo Ratliff, as well as two first-round picks, were dealt to Minnesota in exchange for Kevin Garnett. The Wolves, however, are very deep in young players and guard-forwards. After scoring 9 points in Minnesota's 87-86 loss to Boston last night, Green is averaging 4.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 11.9 minutes in 22 games.
"I'm just working hard every day in practice," said Green, who turns 22 today. "A lot of [positivity] comes from my teammates. They just keep telling me to keep working, keep getting better. I have vets like Antoine Walker, Greg Buckner, Mark Madsen, and Michael Doleac who keep me motivated to want to get better. That's all I'm trying to do.
"I'm just trying to look at everything as positive as I can to keep me motivated. Right now is a tough time, but I've got to stay self-motivated."
The Wolves bought out Juwan Howard's contract after he asked for a trade in the preseason but declined Buckner's early-season request to be traded. Through a Wolves spokesperson, Stack said: "At this time of the year, we're having conversations with teams about possible routes through the trade deadline."
When asked about his agent asking for a trade, Green said: "I'm just letting him handle it. I'm just staying focused on today's game and future games. That's something that Byron's going to have to focus on."
Rivers said he believes Green will be a "good player" in the NBA once he develops.
"It's going to take him time," Rivers said Thursday. "You've got to give him time. He's the Slam Dunk champion, not the basketball champion. We've got to let him play. We've got to let him grow. We've got to allow him to be coached.
"He has to keep improving and want to improve. Here, he was doing that. And from what I hear, he was working his butt off there. His time will come."
Said Celtics forward Paul Pierce: "Gerald is still trying to find himself."