Jeff Green will miss the 2011-12 season
|12.17.11 at 12:42 pm ET|
The Celtics announced on Saturday that forward Jeff Green will have heart surgery next month after his physical revealed an aortic aneurysm. Green will not play this season, although there is hope that he will be able to continue his career next season.
Symptoms for aortic aneurysms often go undetected until examinations, such as physicals. Green’s condition was detected during a team physical on Friday after he had agreed to a one-year contract. He had been held out of practice while he underwent further tests.
“While we are saddened that Jeff will not be able to play this season, the most important thing is his health, and we were fortunate to have access to an amazing team of specialists to evaluate Jeff’s case,” team president Danny Ainge said in a statement released by the team. “The entire Celtics family supports Jeff during this difficult time in his career.”
The Herald reported that his contract will be voided, although it’s unclear where the Celtics go from here. They had one open roster spot even with Green and if his contract is voided, that would open another. They are already over the salary cap and they used the mini mid-level exception on Chris Wilcox, leaving them able to offer just the veteran minimum.
The Celtics could apply for an injury exception, which would allow them to sign a player for up to half of Green’s $9 million contract as a replacement. However, doing so would validate Green’s contract and cost the team up to $27 million in contracts and luxury tax payments.
Former Celtic James Posey was recently waived under the amnesty clause and he is an unrestricted free agent after clearing waivers. While different players with much different skillsets, comparisons were made between the two after Green was the centerpiece of an unexpected trade in February that sent Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Green, center Nenad Krstic and a first round pick from the Clippers that carries top-10 protection through 2016.
The prize, however, was Green, a 6-foot-9 player with obvious basketball skills but no defined strength, He was expected to provide youth, athleticism and scoring for a team that needed all three.
Green was a capable backup for Paul Pierce, something that was desperately needed after Marquis Daniels was lost for the season with a spinal cord injury, but he never appeared to get in sync in Boston, averaging just 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 26 regular season games.
Beyond backing up Pierce, his playing time was often sporadic. It was a significant adjustment for Green who went from a starting role where he was getting 36 minutes a night with the Thunder to an undefined backup situation that saw him on the floor for just 24 minutes a night.
‘I wasn’t comfortable in my spot,’ Green said on Tuesday. ‘It was tough to transition coming from Oklahoma to doing what I was doing there to coming here and trying to find my spot somewhere where I can score the ball.’
Still, Green’s numbers held up when adjusted for the lost time (his scoring and rebounding averages were essentially identical per 36 minutes for both teams) and his shooting percentage climbed from 44 percent with the Thunder to 49 percent with the Celtics. Both he and the team were expecting better results in his first full season.
‘Coming to this situation last year was very stressful, trying to grasp everything right away was hard,’ Green said. ‘Now I’m in a situation where I can relax a little bit. I’m on point with everything.’
In a condensed season, Green was expected to see significant playing time. The plan was to work Green in tandem with Kevin Garnett, giving them a small-ball look. While Green struggled to defend bigger players without a strong frontcourt compliment, he performed well when paired with Garnett and the other All-Stars. His absence also leaves the backup small forward to Daniels and Sasha Pavlovic, although coach Doc Rivers is less concerned with that situation.
‘We have enough players,’ Rivers said. ‘That’s why we have Sasha and Marquis to play the [small forward.] What it would take us away from is going small. We gameplanned all summer about the small lineup we were going to run with Kevin and Jeff .’
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