An NBA agent is expected to create a market for his players, so it's not uncommon to see an agent speak overly optimistically, if not hyperbolically, about one of his clients. Long-time NBA player rep David Falk displayed that sort of optimism this week, when he discussed client Jeff Green, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer after recovering from heart surgery.
"With the possible exception of Deron Williams, I think that Jeff will probably be the No. 1 unrestricted free agent on the market," Falk told SI.com's Sam Amick. "It's not like we have LeBron [James] and [Dwyane] Wade and all these guys floating around. I'd be very surprised if Deron Williams winds up anywhere besides Dallas or [Brooklyn]. So the next guy in the pecking order is Jeff Green."
While I admire Falk's enthusiasm, and it's great to hear that Green appears well on his way to being an NBA contributor again, the agent's projection for the former fifth overall pick seems awfully aggressive. Even a healthy Green only posted a career 12.8 PER in four years before being sidelined for the 2011/12 season.
In the site's free agent rankings, HoopsHype places Green 58th overall and 38th among unrestricted free agents, behind players like Reggie Evans and Nate Robinson. If I were assessing Green's stock, I'd put him somewhere in between Falk's and HoopsHype's rankings, but the uncertainty surrounding the 25-year-old will make him one of this summer's most intriguing free agents.
Falk insists that Green is back to 100% following surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm, and told Amick that he's had "exploratory talks" with 12-14 teams, which suggests clubs aren't shying away due to health concerns. Whether or not Green will receive big-money, long-term offers is another story though. While teams should be willing to roll the dice on a former top-five pick that can play both forward positions, there may be some apprehension about investing major money in a player who hasn't appeared in an NBA game in over a year.
Before he failed a December physical, Green had signed a one-year, $9MM deal with the Celtics. His free agent contract this summer will likely be for multiple years, but at a lesser annual salary than that. The Celtics did Green a favor by withdrawing their qualifying offer, something the team didn't have to do. It means the forward will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, rather than a restricted FA controlled by the Celtics. Green's actions have suggested he hasn't forgotten the gesture — he still has a home in the Boston area, sat on the bench during C's games this season, and has expressed a desire to return. According to Falk, there are three or four teams he and his client have significant interest in, and Boston is one of those teams.
What other teams could be fits for the former Hoya? The Nets have a ton of cap space and are eyeing forwards like Gerald Wallace and Andrei Kirilenko. Green could be a fit if they miss out on their top choices. The Cavs, Rockets, Pacers, Bucks, and Raptors are a few teams with potential cap room who could have interest in a versatile forward like Green. If mid-level money is enough to land the fifth-year veteran, clubs like the Spurs and Warriors could enter the mix as well.
Calling Green the number two unrestricted free agent on the market this summer may be exaggerating his worth a little, but he does have the potential to be a major sleeper. If he's 100% healthy, something we'll all be rooting for, Green could be a great value signing for a contender or a solid veteran addition to a retooling team.