Is he just a big meanie to some members of the media?
I'm trying to figure out reasons for why Green seems to be the brunt of some brutal commentary by people who cover the league.
On the fan side, I can sort of get it, he was obtained in a controversial trade for Kendrick Wilt Abdul-Jabbar O'Neal Russell Perkins, the greatest center to ever average 6.2 points AND 6.2 rebounds per game for a career.
I loved Perk as a Celtic, but I wasn't dismayed when they traded him. He wasn't re-signing here, and getting Green, a young, athletic 6-9 forward who had averaged as much as 16.5 points and 6.7 rebounds over an entire season, seemed to me to be like the best deal Danny Ainge could've made.
The trade was pilloried by fans and media alike in Boston, and to this day, certain people (John Dennis, Glenn Ordway) remain convinced that the Celtics would've won the championship that season had Ainge not made that trade.
To be fair, Green was not impressive during that first half-season with the Celtics. Still, you don't give up on a player with that talent after a half a season. While taking a physical prior to last season, Green was discovered to have a rare, but reparable heart ailment. He missed the entire season after surgery.
This offseason, convinced that Green was 100% recovered and healthy, the team signed him to a four-year, $36 million contract. The howling began. Whether it was our esteemed friends here at SB Nation Boston over at Celtics Blog, or Zach Lowe of Grantland writing "Jeff Green, bloated contract and all, might help in the right matchups" the swipes at the contract were endless.
Then came ESPN's John Hollinger going over-the-top with this bit:
Can they amnesty Green yet, or do they have to wait until the games start? Maybe the Celtics are just trying to keep us on our toes and prove they're capable of screwing up, too. Here's what we know: Green was a fungible player before he missed last season with a heart problem; guaranteeing him four years (with a player option on the fourth!) at a rate far beyond any rational market level is something we might expect from a couple of the league's bumbling organizations, but certainly not this one.
I can't stress this enough: Green is 26 and played four full seasons in the league, and after all that time there's no evidence he's actually any good and considerable evidence that he's a health risk. Yet he's being paid like a second-tier star. This was, without a doubt, the worst contract of the summer.
Hollinger has a proven track record of disliking almost everything about the Celtics, so we take those words with a bit of a grain of salt. But, Ouch.
Amnesty Jeff Green? Yeah, that's a bit unlikely John.
No evidence he's actually any good? He's played four full seasons in the league, and averaged 14 points a game. Say what you will about the inflated salaries in pro sports, but $9 million a year for that sort of production, especially from a young player isn't obscene. Health risk? By all accounts, the heart procedure is a one-time thing that in terms of impact to his playing career, is less risky than an ACL tear. The fewest games he's played in a season is 75, the season he was traded.
If Ryan Anderson (career average 10.4 points, 5.2 rebounds) can get the same four-year, $36 million deal and Gerald Wallace (age 30, career average 13.2 points, 6.7 rebounds) can get four years and $40 million, Green's contract doesn't look out of place at all. Where is the outrage over those contracts?
You can't judge much from two preseason games, but if those games were any indication of what we're going to see from Jeff Green, the contract will quickly become a non-topic. He was aggressive with his offense, taking the ball to the rim, hitting three-pointers, running the floor and flushing rebound dunks in traffic.
From everything I've read and heard, Green is a laid-back, humble guy who is friendly and well liked. But apparently he also has another persona which insults certain writers and makes him the target of ridiculous hyperbole.
It's the only explanation I can think of.