Heading into the 2017-18 NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers' offseason was full of headlines, both good and bad. From parting ways with David Griffin to signing Derrick Rose to the team, the one storyline that has flown under the radar for Cleveland was the signing of Jeff Green to a veteran minimum contract. Well, it was flying under the radar until Green made this play the other day in the Cavs preseason game against the Washington Wizards:
Even with the early-on dunk of the year candidate, Green has earned his spot on the Cavaliers roster despite being largely underwhelming for the better part of his career. Originally the fifth overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics, Green drew comparisons to NBA greats like Lamar Odom and even James Worthy while spending time at Georgetown. But Green did not originally start off with the Celtics as he was shipped off to the then-Seattle Supersonics in the infamous Ray Allen trade.
But Green did not originally start off with the Celtics as he was shipped off to the then-Seattle Supersonics in the infamous Ray Allen trade. He was considered a huge part of the now Oklahoma City Thunder joining forces with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka and averaged 14.3 points and 5.7 rebounds while with the Thunder. But his future with Loud City was cut short as the team traded him back to the Boston Celtics to acquire Kendrick Perkins.
When he first arrived in Boston, Green was viewed as the successor to Paul Pierce and would join Celtics all-time greats like Pierce and Larry Bird at the forward position. He showed flashes of potential but still had to earn his minutes in the Celtics rotation and finished his first season with Boston with averages of 9.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 0.7 assists. But tragedy struck for Green the following offseason, as the Celtics diagnosed him with an aortic aneurysm and the condition required immediate surgery.
Curiously enough, Green had his surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, one of the best hospitals in the world and one of the main sponsors of the Cavaliers. Even more curious was the fact that Cavaliers head coach Tyron Lue, then an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics, was the one who made it his priority to help Green rehab after surgery and return to the court. But between Lue and Green, their careers went in two very different directions.
Lue went on to become a highly accomplished assistant coach and finished in a very close second to David Blatt in the original head coach search for Cleveland when LeBron James returned. Eventually, Lue took the reigns of the franchise and led the Cavs to their first championship and Cleveland's first title in over half a century. While Lue accomplished tons in his rise to becoming head coach,
While Lue accomplished tons in his rise to becoming a head coach, Green bounced around the league after returning to the court spending time with the Memphis Grizzlies, the LA Clippers, and the Orlando Magic. While at each stop many had hoped that Green would regain his form of the player he once was, but never seemed to quite put it all together. He seemed washed up and on his way out of the league until he signed with the Cavaliers for the veteran's minimum this offseason.
The dunk in the preseason showed flashes of the player that received so much praise nearly 10 years ago and Green has earned his spot as Kevin Love's primary backup in the Cavs rotation. There is nearly no pressure for Green to start for the team and can join a championship caliber squad a few years after many thought he would never touch the floor again. Even if he never returns to the player he once was, it almost seems like destiny that somehow some way that the Cleveland Cavaliers would have Jeff Green in their rotation with Lue leading the team as the head coach as the team looks to win their second title in three seasons.