The Fab Melo Era in Boston is over, though it never really began.
The Celtics announced Thursday that they traded the extremely raw 7-footer and cash to Memphis for forward Donte Green. Melo’s Celtics tenure began just 14 months ago when the team selected him in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft.
Though Melo was a low-risk gamble for the Celtics at the No. 22 overall pick, he made little progress in his rookie season. The Brazilian played sparingly in six games, scoring 7 total points, proving to be little more than a long-term project at best.
Beyond that, the deal could help the Celtics avoid the luxury tax if they choose to waive the 6-foot-11-inch Greene, whose contract of slightly more than $1 million is nonguaranteed. The Celtics right now are about $700,000 over the $71.8 million tax line for next season.
It makes little sense for the Celtics to be a tax-paying team heading into a rebuilding season, so it’s likely that Greene will be waived — either immediately or following training camp, which he must attend as a nonguaranteed player — if only to help their bottom line.
Greene, like Melo a former Syracuse player, has appeared in 253 games in his five-year career, all with Sacramento, averaging 6.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in 16.8 minutes per game.
Greene didn’t play last season after fracturing his foot the previous summer. He had been acquired by Memphis (the team that originally drafted him in 2008) in April.
Melo’s exit follows an underwhelming stint in the Orlando Summer League, where he averaged 18.2 minutes in five games, with 6.2 points and 3.4 rebounds.
“When you’re going into your second year, and you’re playing in summer league, and they’re keeping you on the bench, something is really wrong,” an NBA scout said of Melo.
Melo also famously sustained a concussion by walking into a door frame last season, an incident former Celtics coach Doc Rivers referred to as “Fab being Fab.”
And in a game at Toronto in April, Melo picked up four fouls in three minutes.
Melo starred at times when he played in 33 games for the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League, averaging 9.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, and a league-high 3.1 blocks in 26.2 minutes per game.
In one game, against Erie, Melo had 15 points, 16 rebounds, and a D-League record 14 blocks. In the next game, against Idaho, he had 32 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 blocks.
But whatever flashes of talent he showed were brief and too often overshadowed by simple mistakes that revealed just how far Melo has to go to be an effective player.
Dealing Melo also helps clear up a crowded frontcourt that already includes 7-footers Kelly Olynyk, a rookie, and first-round draft pick, and Brazilian center, Vitor Faverani.
The Celtics now have 14 guaranteed contracts for a commitment of about $71.2 million.