Editor’s note: Eric Saar kicks off our offseason series to examine how expendable individual Suns are and the likelihood those players will be on the roster by the end of the 2014-15 season. First up is swingman Gerald Green, who had surprising highs that came with head-scratching lows in 2013-14.
The Green Machine.
He’s a high-flying, emotional player who lets it fly from deep when he’s not flying in for a vicious dunk himself.
Along with other players like Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, Gerald Green brought excitement to the desert that hadn’t been felt since the 2010 Suns playoff run.
He was acquired in a win-win trade with the Indiana Pacers last offseason, and with his and Miles Plumlee’s fascinating breakout performances, the trade sending Luis Scola out of Phoenix hardly seems like a fair deal.
But could Green be gone after just one season? Phoenix already has three of the four guard spots taken for the long term with Dragic, Bledsoe and last year’s rookie, Archie Goodwin. P.J. Tucker, the heart of the Suns, could very well re-sign. So Green may not be as essential as he was last season. Phoenix also has three first round picks at the end of June in the draft to replace him with a younger player, one on a contract a tad smaller than his expiring deal.
Green’s shooting, athleticism and intensity won quite a few games for Phoenix, but his gambling on defense and occasionally streaky shot that went cold, also lost a few for the Suns. Overall it was a net positive, especially during Bledsoe’s injury-caused absence, but the 28-year-old may continue to be a journeyman if the Suns trade him.
Green is on Phoenix’s books in 2014-15 for $3.5 million and then becomes a free-agent next summer unless given an extension. As ShamSports’ Mark Deeks noted in a very unique case of Keith Bogans last year, those $3-6 million contracts are crucial to get deals done — in short, Bogans was a minimum-contract player but had the early Bird rights to be signed, then traded, in the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce deal to Boston on a pricy $5 million contract. And that contract, despite it being an obvious overspend, was a valuable asset for the Celtics this past season, even if they didn’t pull the trigger.
If Green were to be traded, it would only make sense for him to be paired along with draft picks and other players for a superstar, but like Bogans his contract could make or break a deal. Green’s production and relatively cheap contract would likely be appealing for most teams.
Chances of Green being traded: Being a bit bold, I’d say there is a 60 percent chance Green is traded before the NBA trade deadline in February. He is the perfect sixth man on a playoff team — someone who puts points on the board in bunches. At the same time, the Suns could see him as being expendable as long as Bledsoe and Dragic stay healthy, Goodwin makes progress this summer and a wing is selected in the draft.