Anyone watching Gerald Green play for the D-League's Los Angeles D-Fenders earlier this season had to figure it was only a matter of time until the 26-year-old earned another shot in the NBA. That shot finally came in the form of a 10-day contract from the Nets, and turned into a rest-of-season deal with New Jersey. Green didn't disappoint, showing off the talents that made him the 18th overall pick in the 2005 draft.
Although he's spent the last few seasons in Russia, China, and the D-League, and is seeing his first NBA action since 2008/09, Green looks like he's here to stay. In 30 games for the Nets, he has averaged 13.0 points and a 16.2 PER on .489/.383/.766 shooting in just 25.2 minutes per game. Not just a high flier whose dunks appear on SportsCenter, Green appears to have evolved into a solid NBA rotation piece.
Because the Nets only signed him to a contract for the rest of the season, Green will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but it sounds as if he wants to remain a Net. When he signed his deal, Green said he wanted to give the team cap flexibility, but that he's "not trying to go anywhere." More recently, he spoke of having a "strong feeling" he'd remain a Net, even talking about potentially giving the team a discount in free agency.
Of course, most NBA players will talk about wanting to return to their current teams at this time of year, but that doesn't guarantee anything. The Nets figure to be active in free agency, and if they're able to retain Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and Gerald Wallace, they could focus on a high-profile power forward to join their core, leaving little cap room available for Green. The Lakers are thought to have interest in Green as well, and the former Celtic didn't close the door on returning to Boston.
When Green spoke last week about his desire to return to the Nets, he commented, "It's not like I have to weigh my options. I really don't have options." While that may be the case right now, I think Green will have a handful of offers to choose from when the NBA's free agency period begins. Over-the-cap playoff contenders in need of a scorer off the bench could consider him with their mid-level exceptions, and under-the-cap teams who miss out on top free agents could pursue him as a Plan B. I don't see the 26-year-old having to settle for a minimum-salary contract.
Green may ultimately end up remaining a Net and bringing his high-flying dunks to Brooklyn next season. But if he does, he'll be choosing Brooklyn over other teams, not accepting the only offer he has on the table.