Boston Celtics: Making the case for JaMychal Green

Dec 31, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green (0) celebrates after scoring a basket against the Sacramento Kings during the fourth quarter at Golden 1 Center. The Grizzlies defeated the Kings 112-98. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 31, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green (0) celebrates after scoring a basket against the Sacramento Kings during the fourth quarter at Golden 1 Center. The Grizzlies defeated the Kings 112-98. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Celtics need a paint presence and solid rebounder. With JaMychal Green as a free agent, he might be the perfect option that fits the budget with ease.

JaMychal Green is currently on a sub-million dollar Memphis Grizzlies contract, which is absolutely baffling. Not many players have started as many games as Green, played solid minutes every night, all while being paid under $1 million.

For the Boston Celtics, Green could represent a cheap fallback option that should only be resorted to if they fail to land superstars like Gordon Hayward, Paul George or Blake Griffin, as they are reportedly pursuing. Green will not help the team nearly as much as either of those three and is not a highly sought out target, but if all else fails, Green would be able to fit the system without costing too much.

Green is going to demand much more than his 2016-17 salary this offseason, but it gives the Boston Celtics the opportunity to throw a medial contract at him, hoping to land an impact player that will help the structure of the team.

According to Spotrac, the Celtics could create up to $27.1 million in cap space by renouncing all cap holds (though it’ll likely be much lower than this since they won’t be renouncing Jayson Tatum, Guerschon Yabusele or Ante Zizic).

Green’s athleticism, defense and rebounding are his best assets, which perfectly fit into what the Celtics lack. Amir Johnson was an outside-in player who was forced into a heavy defensive workload and it didn’t work out.

Kelly Olynyk struggled to be a consistent force, and his defense tended to be more fouling than defense. Tyler Zeller, well, he just wasn’t effective when he got minutes. Pursuing a superstar is an obvious choice, but a proven defender and strong rebounder will help plug up a major hole in the defensive foundation.

Who has to go

Luckily for the Celtics, signing JaMychal Green can have limited consequences. Unfortunately, that is dependent on Green’s demand for money, and if the Grizzlies decide to match that offer. The chances he is offered a sizable contract from a rebuilding team is high, but if Boston strikes out on its prime targets, there could be plenty of money to go around in Beantown as well.

Because Green is a restricted free agent, the Grizzlies can match any offer and they would likely pounce on that opportunity to re-sign Green for a smaller contract. While Green may seem like a fantastic secondary option, that’s just what he is: a secondary option.

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  • Mind you that any offer is dependent on Green’s mindset and desire to take a bigger contract, but most importantly, the Celtics failing to secure a bigger name like Blake Griffin or Paul George. Most likely, the amount the Celtics would throw in Green’s direction is likely to be matched by Memphis. If the Celtics do not make any further moves in acquiring a superstar, then and only then, will Green be offered a contract large enough for the Grizzlies to pass on matching.

    Looking at the Celtics’ roster from a financial standpoint fits right into the whole, “Danny Ainge is a madman who knows EXACTLY what he’s doing” narrative. Hopefully that means he will address the Celtics’ biggest needs immediately. Renouncing the rights to Zeller would free up around $8 million. This decision would need to be made on or before July 2, when Zeller’s salary becomes guaranteed.

    The chances Zeller stays aren’t very high and he doesn’t carry much weight as far as the chemistry of the Celtics is concerned. Players like Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko had a severely more important impact on the team than Zeller, but sacrifices will need to be made to create a championship-winning formula.

    After Zeller, the next option would be Amir Johnson. He was a three-point shooter that had a knack for rebounding, but this season showcased him more like a player that was hesitant with the ball, almost refusing to shoot at times. Not to mention he was a defensive liability against teams that consistently drove to the lane.

    Without both Zeller and Johnson, the Celtics would have $20 million freed up in cap space, meaning they have options. Even after renouncing the rights to all three, signing JaMychal Green might ruin the chances of signing a superstar.

    How he fits Boston

    While the question you may be asking is, “Why sign Green when you can sign a superstar, possibly two?” Mainly because the Celtics absolutely need a player, aside from Jae Crowder, that can play in the paint and be a more effective rebounder.

    The Celtics struggled to capitalize on their defense by giving up easy rebounds, which Green would immediately accommodate. Green is not a shot-blocker, but he lives in the paint and goes after every single rebound. His athleticism gives him an advantage over other players while his size still allows him to run with faster teams like Boston.

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    He is not a strong shot-blocker, but no Celtic player is. They focus on solid defense and forcing bad shots, not blocking shots and going for steals. The Celtics’ conservative style of defense fits Green’s style of play. Both focus on playing defense using their feet first, staying with defenders rather than trying use risky tactics to get the ball.

    Signing and utilizing Green will not be highlight reel worthy, but his down-to-earth, quiet demeanor fits with the rest of the team. He does what he is told every night. For the Grizzlies, Green was put into a heavy defensive load and forced to eat up as many rebounds as he could.

    While it may have worked for some time, the Grizzlies’ inability to score and their slow pace hindered his effectiveness. By letting him space the floor with Al Horford, it will open room for Green to adhere to his offense as well.

    Last season, Green took four more shots per game than he did in his 2015-16 season, but attempted 99 more threes. He also scored 111 more points, shooting 37 percent from three-point range. The improvement to his offense is notable, but still limited by the slower pace in Memphis.


    Athleticism and versatility are his best attributes, and a change of scenery, increase in pay, and new role will help Green find his true calling card. He does not have a specific role in Memphis, but manages to play multiple roles depending on the situation.

    That is a major part of what makes Green a coveted asset. He does what needs to be done, even if it’s defending Blake Griffin all night and not shooting the ball. This is what Boston needs — someone who will willingly go out and sit in the paint to gobble up rebounds and that’s it. It just so happens Green has been doing that for the past three years on one of the best defensive teams in the league.

    The 27-year-old power forward is a prime example of the new NBA. Athletic versatility is the name of the game and finding player like Green that can play multiple positions is vital. Players tend to focus on offense, but Green has stayed a consistent defensive threat and improves on his offense every year he has been in the league.

    By moving him to a more skilled offensive team, his numbers will continue to rise and the Celtics will have the athletic rebounder and paint presence they need. There are plenty of options out there, but Green is one of the cheaper options that still has plenty of upside and a promising future, if he can find the right team. That team could be the Boston Celtics.

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    You know, if they can’t get Paul George or Blake Griffin first. Even then, Green as a backup might adhere to his skill-set more appropriately than a starter’s workload would.