NBA AM: Gerald Green’s Crazy Ride
From Draft Pick, To Russia, To China and Back : It’s hard to believe Gerald Green is just 26 years old. It seems like he’s been in the NBA world longer than that, but the heralded leaper who came straight out of high school in 2005 has had a crazy NBA journey. After being as out of the NBA as anyone could be, Gerald Green finds himself in New Jersey with the Nets and he is trying to make the most of his opportunity.
“This is nuts,” Green said to HOOPSWORLD, smiling as he reflected on how he got to the Nets.
“It’s crazy but then again it’s been a learning journey for me as far as just learning the game and learning how to be a man and learning how to be an adult, learning how to be a professional.”
“It’s been a learning experience for me and it’s been a fun experience. It’s been a sad experience and it’s been a happy experience. It’s been everything and above. It’s been good times and bad times but I cherish the good times and I do cherish the bad times because I remember the bad times. I don’t ever want those bad times to ever come again.”
Gerald bounced around the NBA after being drafted in the first round in 2005, hitting on stops with the Celtics (who drafted him with the 18th pick), the Timberwolves, the Rockets, the Mavericks and stints in Russian, China and the D-league.
Gerald says in all of his stops he has learned that being a professional is not always easy.
“I’ll try to be on time and try and be professional,” explained Green. “Try not to let little things affect me on the court and off the court, just the little things. “
“When I was in High School, I was very immature not knowing. Young and dumb, stupid. Out of high school, not thinking I know everything but it was a different world. I just didn’t understand. High School was an extracurricular activity, it’s for fun. You play AAU… you’re just doing it to hang out. Most kids like me do it to stay out of trouble. This is a business. “
For Gerald isn’t necessarily a case of it coming too easy, because he says he worked hard to get to the NBA, but he admits he wasn’t ready for the life in the NBA required of him.
“In High School I worked so hard. I really did,” explained Green. “I worked real hard to get to this point and it seems like when I got here I just took everything for granted because I didn’t know how to be a professional.”
“In High School I didn’t pay any bills. My mom did all of that. I didn’t have to wake myself up to go to practice. My mom woke me up. She turned on the lights every morning and was like ‘hey we have to go to school’. In the NBA my mom wasn’t there. My mom wasn’t there to wake me up and tell me ‘hey you have to go to practice’. I have to. She wasn’t there to make sure that I have to go work out. That’s a part of being professional. I just learned that this is a business. I have to take this and I have to approach this like a job and I think that once I did that, me going overseas changed my life.
“It’s so different as far as different opportunities, the different atmospheres and it’s not where I wanted to be.”
“I just tried to do everything possible to change as a person, change as a player on the court and off the court and I just prayed to god. Once I get my chance I’m going to try and do everything I can not to ruin it and I’m just thankful of what I’m having now.”
The New Jersey Nets have guaranteed the balance of the season for Gerald and word is they will have a team option to keep Gerald next season as well.
“It’s so special to me. If I could thank this team every day, I really would,” explained Green. “ A lot of teams passed on me. Every team in the league passed on me besides this one, every team. I didn’t have any workouts besides New Jersey. I cannot believe I’m here. It’s very shocking to me that I’m even here because I just never thought that I would be back in the league again.”
“I’m just taking it day by day,” said Green of his new lease on his career. “The team has embraced me I feel like I’ve been here all season with the way they treat me. I don’t think that they want me to leave but that’s just the way that this organization treats players. They embrace you, they bring you in and it’s like family. “
“Early on you worry about what you’re going to do or not, but it’s always good to still be in the same situation that you were and that you dreamed about and having this good group of guys and a great organization bring you in like family. It turned out to be pretty good.”
Gerald says he understands where he stands in the big picture of the NBA these days, but tries to focus on what he can control more than what he can’t.
“I don’t want to think about the future or think about how I don’t know if I’m going to be here tomorrow,” explained Green. “That’s how I have to think… I think I have to try to take it day by day. I think that’s how I’m going to take it the rest of my career. “
“[I can’t] think if I do well we’ll get in the playoffs or if I do good here, forget that. Just think about doing well each and every day. If it’s practice, how can I preform in practice to get better? What can I do in the game to help my team win? “
“I’ve been taking that route every day since I’ve been overseas and this really helped my game. I think that’s the mentality I’m going to take from now on, just as far as anything as far as getting a contract or getting better on the court, just take it day by day and when that day finally comes that’s when I’m going to try and handle it. “
The hardest thing for NBA players’ with guaranteed contracts is understanding that tomorrow is never promised, and for Gerald Green that’s become a very real reality, something he thinks about a lot.
“I never would’ve thought that I would’ve been out of the league my rookie year,” said a confident Green. “If you would’ve told me when I was in Boston, ‘do you think you’ll be out of the league?’ – No. Or when you told me when I was in Dallas, ‘hey, do you think you’ll be out of the league?’ – Oh no, there’s no way.”
“But this league is a league of talent. They get talent every year, players get better every year and if you take things for granted and don’t continue to get better and not continue to dedicate yourself somebody’s going to take your spot and that’s what somebody did for the last three seasons. Somebody filled my place up and I was overseas or trying to fight my way back in. “
“That fighting your way back in, there’s a lot of guys fighting. It’s very tough but if you live your day just by making sure that you get better every day and take it day by day it’s a lot easier than thinking about trying to work seven days ahead of you. It’s tough… Just taking it day by day is always the easiest way for me. “
In 2010 Gerald was playing for BC Krasnye Krylya in Russia. In December he was playing for the Foshan Dralions in China. In January he was playing for the Los Angeles D-Fenders in the D-League. On Saturday he scored 16 points for the New Jersey Nets.
It’s been a crazy journey for Gerald Green; he has come a long way since being the 18th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft.
Time For Some Call-Up Love: A number of NBA teams tried to solve roster problems at the trade deadline but swung and missed. There are a few guys killing it in the NBA development League and maybe the answer for some of those teams is waiting for a shot in the D-League.
Here are some of the names to watch as teams consider call-ups over the next few weeks.
Andre Emmett – 6’5 224lb – Forward
Avg: 23.6pts 5.8rebs 3.4asts 52.5FG% 44.9% 3PT%
26pts 3rebs 2asts 61.5FG%
21pts 6rebs 6asts 50.0FG%
24pts 3rebs 3asts 50.0FG%
Andre has been a monster in the D-League all year. More of a combo swingman that plays the two and the three, Andre has scored in double figures in all but one of the 30 games he’s played in the D-League this year. He has an Efficiency rating of +22.67 on the season. He could start on some of the lesser NBA teams so it’s simply a matter of time before Andre is on a roster. He’s just too good to not be picked up.
Justin Dentmon – 6’0 185lb – Guard
Avg: 23.2pts 3.8rebs 5.3asts 46.5FG%
21pts 3rebs 12asts 50.0FG%
31pts 3rebs 5asts 52.6FG%
25pts 3rebs 8asts 50.0FG%
If your team is looking for a point guard, the best of the bunch in the D-League might be Justin Dentmon. He has scored in double figures in all but one of the 37 games he’s played in the D-League this year and he can flat out score. He is a solid distributor and he is cat quick. His 6’0 listing might be a little generous, but on the court he is a solid guard and with guys dropping to injury around the NBA, Justin might be a smart call-up.
Marqus Blakely – 6’5 220lb – Forward
Avg: 16.2pts 7.6rebs 2.8asts 52.2FG%
18pts 7rebs 4asts 58.3FG%
21pts 12rebs 3asts 53.8FG%
24pts 11rebs 3asts 68.7FG%
The fact that Marqus Blakely is not in the NBA today is almost amazing. During the draft process Marqus was cast as a undersized power forward, when in reality he is a small forward and a pretty good one at that. Marqus has 21 games this season where he scored in double figures and has a +15.93 Efficiency rating. Marqus is not much of a perimeter shooter, but athletic and physical and scores within his game. The Houston Rockets gobbled him up last year, so expect another team to take a swipe at Marqus he is simply too good not to end the season on a NBA roster.
Derrick Caracter – 6’9 275lb – Forward
Avg: 11.2pts 5.4rebs .08asts 54.5FG%
8pts 2rebs 0asts 66.6FG%
20pts 16rebs 3asts 52.9FG%
11pts 2rebs 0asts 66.6FG%
DC was cut loose by the LA Lakers to open up a roster spot, and has been up and down in the D-League since. When DC is playing minutes he produces. However his PT has been spotty. DC is an NBA forward and he can score in multiple places. It seems like a matter of time before a NBA team scoops him up. He is a solid NBA big.
Edwin Ubiles – 6’6 204lb – Guard/Forward
Avg: 20.4pts 5.1rebs 3.3asts 50.0FG%
10pts 6rebs 2asts 33.3FG%
22pts 5rebs 1asts 52.9FG%
22pts 5rebs 6asts 42.1FG%
Edwin has been a monster in the D-League this year. He has 33 games where he scored double figures including a 41 point outing versus Iowa just after the All-Star game. He is swingman type that can play the two or the three and he can flat out score. Of all of the under the radar D-League guys Edwin is arguably the best of the bunch. It will be surprising if he is not gobbled up soon, especially as teams on the way to the draft lottery start looking towards next season.
It has become common practice in the NBA for teams to gobble up hot D-League players for the final days of the season so that they retain their rights for summer league and the off-season.
Most of those transactions land the player involved two or three days of pro-rated NBA salary and the chance to work with that team in the off-season.
As the season starts to wind down, don’t be surprised to see teams with an open roster spot grab one or two of these kinds of guys if only to insure they get them for the summer. Their rights can also be used in off-season trades if they show real promise.
Derek Fisher: The Houston Rockets and former Laker guard Derek Fisher reached a buyout agreement yesterday and he was waived by the team.
Fishers’ camp says he is unsure what he’ll do going forward telling some that he wasn’t sure if his heart was still in it to try and land on another team.
Fisher after all spent the entire summer fighting the NBA on behalf of the Players Association trying to reach a new labor deal. His season with the Lakers reflected that his game is going downhill pretty quickly.
So he is unsure what he wants to do next.
There are a couple of ironic twists to how this played out for Fisher, because the very labor deal he negotiated put him in the position to be waived.
Under the old labor deal if teams wanted to “buy” draft picks they simply wired over cash to a team and purchased the pick.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement put a cap on what teams can include in deals in efforts to slow the out of control cash transfers, limiting it to $3 million total in any one given season.
However teams like Houston, which want additional draft picks have a new loophole… simply trade for a player worth the amount you would pay for the pick and buyout that player.
Fisher had about $800,000 left on his deal this year and a player option worth $3.4 million next year.
You can bet that the final number paid to Fisher is probably in the $3 million range, which is what first round picks usually sell for.
The other interested loophole that was closed in the NBA directly affects Derek Fisher too… Teams are no longer allowed to re-sign players they traded and get waived or bought out.
Under the old deal players could return to their old team 30 days after the trade that sent them out.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement changes that rule pretty drastically.
Under the new deal, a player can return to his original team one year from the date of the trade or July 1st following the last year of his original contract.
In Fishers’ case the last year of his contract ends on June 30th, 2013 – so he eligible to return to the Lakers the earlier of two dates… July 1, 2013 or March 15th, 2013.
Once Fisher clear waivers on Wednesday he can sign with any team but the Lakers and Houston – so he has options.
It’s somewhat ironic that the deal Fisher signed as President of the Players Association put him in this position.
There has been talk that Fisher may opt to retire and re-join the Lakers as an executive or as a coach, there is no restriction on Fisher doing that.
The question is does Fish still want to play, and he’ll have until Wednesday to decide what comes next.
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