Gerald Green’s ongoing journey comes full circle


PHOENIX — Dallas could have been the last place the NBA heard of Gerald Green. The former pick of the Boston Celtics that included front office underling and future Suns general manager Ryan McDonough found himself a free agent and signed with the Mavericks in 2008, but the stint was short.

“Our two position was kind of in flux all year long,” Carlisle said. “He went through the kinds of things players do before they find themselves.”

Some players simply take longer to find themselves than others.

Playing behind a healthy Josh Howard and Jerry Stackhouse, Green’s opportunities were limited with the Mavs, and like his stints before, the minutes were hardly ever there for the taking. Carlisle treated Green well, and the two are still cordial.

“I remember when I was there with the Mavs, man, he was always bringing me to his office and making sure I was going to be ready,” Green said.

The support didn’t help Green get on the court often — or stay in the league. He played in Russia and China, even making an appearance with the Lakers’ D-league affiliate, the LA D-Fenders. Green averaged double-digit points with a miserable New Jersey Nets team in his NBA return in 2012, earned a multi-year contract with the Indiana Pacers, but fell out of favor by struggling to shoot.

Phoenix has already seen the shifts in confidence from their reserve, and it’s hurt he’s switched between starter and bench player.

Credit Jeff Hornacek for giving Green the tools to chuck threes without thinking, and give his teammates the nod for keeping Green’s head up. In the last two games, he’s scored 41 combined points to help Phoenix come from 21 points down to drop Denver then return to U.S. Airways the next night, where 22 points help the Suns win 123-108 against the Mavs.

“A lot of guys have been talking to me the last couple weeks, I wasn’t playing as good,” Green said. “They kind of seen that I was getting a little down on myself. They still had confidence in me. It does a lot for a player, when a player struggles, just to know deep down inside teammates have confidence.”

It’s easy when the floor is spread and the pick-and-roll game is clicking between the Suns’ two point guards and the big men. It doesn’t hurt Green has quite the bright green light.

“Me and coach are really close,” Green said. “We’re always talking, he’s always trying to say this stuff to make me laugh, tell me stories about how he used to play. Even when we’re shooting, he’ll say little things like ‘Oh, don’t let Gerald shoot, it’ll go in.’

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Jeff Hornacek on P.J. Tucker’s three-point shooting: “It’s great when P.J. makes those corner threes. I’m still on him about shooting them. He says, ‘Coach, my feet weren’t ready.’ And I said, ‘Well, if you’re going to be shooting you have to get your feet ready.’ I like when he shoots the three, I think he shoots it well, especially from those corner areas.”

  • vtsunrise

    What a pickup and what a trade – Green and Plumlee, wow. When was the last time the Suns were the beneficiary of such a lopsided trade?

    I think Green and the Morri have the potential of being the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Man of the Year or just terrorizing other teams. It’s crazy having a bench with that much energy and talent. And then there’s Ish and Archie, who are only going to get better and better. Funtastic.

  • vtsunrise

    And what happens with a healthy Len? I think the sky is the limit. No one has a clue how good this team could be by April.

    I wasn’t around for ’04-’05. Is this what that looked and felt like, a bit? The turnaround from the previous season, the running and the gunning. The hops and the threes… And the surprise.

  • Animan

    You weren’t around? What, are you 9 years old? I’m excited to see what Len could do with his playing time

  • Scott

    @vtsunrise -

    Well, if I recall it correctly, the Suns began blowing teams out of the water in pre-season. So while people were surprised that adding Nash to the team was going to make such a huge difference, Suns fans saw blowout wins happening right from the start.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Scott….Yeah, I remember watching that team blow somebody out on the road during pre-season…..and thinking “is this for real” ?
    Well….yeah, it was.

    I’ve wanted Gerald Green for a few years now….used to always get “yelled” at when I would bring it up on the board….glad we finally got him..

    Caught Joel Embiid (Kansas) yesterday….guy is a better prospect than Len or Noel.

    Forever…usually preferred Playboy women to Penthouse women…at least back in their (my ?) heyday of the late 70′s early 80′s
    anyways….was watching some A&E special called Hollywood Secrets or something & this billionaire asked a well known “madam” how much it would cost to spend the night with a certain Playboy Playmate…she told him a quarter million….he agreed….she kept 200K & gave the playmate 50K….always wondered who it was ?

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Kendall Marshall played 6 minutes for the lakers last night….and had 4 turnovers,,,,FOUR to’s in SIX minutes !?!…..wow, that’s hard to do.
    well, he did hit his only shot…a 3 pointer.

  • vtsunrise

    For those who don’t know VtSunrise… I wasn’t around as a Suns fan in ’04-’05. I’m in my 50s, and born in Canada. Fell in love with basketball in my teens, and gave up hockey for basketball as a fan, but was still a casual NBA fan. Always attracted to dynamic teams with amazing PGs. But not loyal to any single team. Became hooked on the Suns at the end of the ’06 season. Missed a lot over the years leading up to that point.

  • vtsunrise

    ,,, or the end of the ’05 season. When Joe Johnson had just had his face rearranged in the playoffs.

  • vtsunrise

    I had to check: http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/PHO/2005.html to verify. I have no recollection of Smush Parker as a Sun and barely recall Quentin Richardson, but I completely recall Eddie House and Pat Burke from the ’05-’06 season.

    I was hooked for good by the ’06-’07 season and the heroic run without Amare, but with a suspect bench including Sean Marks, Eric Piatkowski, Marcus Banks and Jalen Rose. They make this team’s bench look like all stars.

    D’Antoni was criticized for his short rotation, but as coach of that squad, how deep would you have gone?

  • vtsunrise

    All right, I need to fact check first. It was ’05-’06 without Amare, when the Suns became heroic for doing their best without their top scorer, and when Boris Diaw had his best season ever.

  • john

    A quarter million for what probably amounted to a lousy 10 minutes? And we call NBA players overpaid.

  • Rengaw

    I don’t believe there is another team in the NBA with as much depth in shooting the 3 ball as the Suns. Only Plumlee has the STOP sign. With our guards driving and kicking and Horny fine tuning the shooters, there is no reason why the Suns can’t continue to fire the 3 when open.

  • john

    ^^^^^^

    Agreed. This is a team that can make its living behind the arc. The NBA is turning into a 3-ball league more and more each year, and I don’t see that changing. That extra point is too tempting to pass up, even with the dip in percentage. Shoot the 3, Suns. Shoot it freely. It’ll pinch your ticket to the postseason.

  • john

    *punch

  • vtsunrise

    Appropriate that someone named “John” commented on the expensive but quick trick. Oh to have money like that to “blow”!

  • foreveris2long

    Hawki, Good stuff on the playmates. I went to a Playboy Jazz Festival about 8 years ago and was fortunate enough to sit 4 or 5 rows across from the playmates. I thought they were overrated and looked better in the magazines.Needless to say if I was a millionaire I would not spend money on them.

    I saw Marshall play last night and I am glad he plays for the enemy. As for Green and Plumlee I only expected one of them to exceed expectations. For both of them to be playing at this level is insane.

  • http://.... Jeff

    people keep talking about when len comes back, what about okafor, perhaps he can contribute as well

  • Scott

    @Jeff -

    The initial assessment on Okafor is that he’d be out for the season. So far there’s no solid indication he’ll be able to play before his contract expires.

  • john

    Getting back to that idea of what this season feels like vs ’04-’05, I’d say it’s nowhere near as magical. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying this a lot. However, that ’04-’05 season was something else entirely. From the get go, that team was convincingly improved, and it was immediately apparent they had what it took to compete at the highest level.

    With this season’s team, I’m convinced they can beat anyone EXCEPT the best teams regularly, but I still don’t think they have much of a chance against the likes of OKC, SAS, MIA, and IND.

    In any case, this has been my second-favorite season of the past decade. It’s great to see a team that realizes its potential, even if its potential isn’t quite championship caliber.

  • Zack B.

    What we should have done was draft Antetokoumpo and Goodwin…I know he’s been injured, but I have no hope for Len, I feel like we should trade him while teams still believe.