Clippers interested in Gerald Green: Should they sign him?


Mar 27, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Gerald Green (14) dribbles against the Portland Trail Blazers at US Airways Center. The Trail Blazers won the game 87-81. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

NBA free agency has officially begun, and the Los Angeles Clippers are immediately at the forefront of the action. With DeAndre Jordan meeting with the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks today, the Clippers have to wait till tomorrow for their pitch to try and ensure that their defensive anchor doesn’t leave (per Sam Amick of USA Today Sports).

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Their issue at center isn’t the only worry in their mind, though. Since trading Matt Barnes (along with Spencer Hawes) to the Charlotte Hornets for Lance Stephenson, the Clippers are in need of a new starting small forward. And seeing as Paul Pierce of the Washington Wizards — the man who has widely been considered as their top target — is reportedly more likely to stay put, the Clippers need to look elsewhere.

Now, according to Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times, the Clippers are interested in Gerald Green of the Phoenix Suns.

Whilst Green may not have the attachment to L.A. that Pierce does — after Pierce grew up in L.A. and won a championship with Doc Rivers in 2008 — he still possesses the kind of skill set that would completely fit with the Clippers’ fast paced style. On June 11th, I actually wrote a column (which you can read here) discussing how well he could suit the team. Primarily due to his incredible athleticism, ability to make plays in transition (that’s where some nice lobs from Chris Paul come in), shooting, and the physical tools he possesses to become a solid perimeter defender.

After starting 48 games and averaging 28.4 minutes in 2013-14, Green was demoted by the Suns to just 4 starts and an average of only 19.5 minutes per game this year.

Before looking a little deeper into what Green can bring to the table, here’s an extract from my column, highlighting his offensive impact for the Suns this year:

"He averaged 22 points per 36 minutes this year (an increase of 2 from the previous season) and added 4.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1 steal. He used his athleticism, 35.4 percent three point shooting (he shoots very well when contested, too) and even some spin-moves on the baseline to bury some buckets whenever given the chance.When he was on the floor for the Suns this year, Green even raised their offensive rating by 5 whole points per 100 possessions. Furthermore, the Suns went from having a net rating of -1.6 without Green, to +1.3 whenever he was in the game. So, for a player who the Suns have shown little faith in over the past season, he was able to turn them into a winning team — for at least the brief amount of time he was on the floor."

In addition to his scoring ability, though, Green has the potential to improve defensively — if he can find himself on a team that value his talent and reward him with the kind of minutes that will encourage him to play at a higher intensity.

He’s 6’8″ with a 6’10” wing span, and possesses the speed and explosiveness with his 39 inch vertical to do things that most players can’t. Such as getting his head above the rim — with ease. He may have averaged a very modest 1 steal per 36 minutes this year, but with an elite perimeter defender such as Chris Paul to learn from and be inspired be, the Clippers could help bring out the best in Green.

Even if takes a little time, it could happen. Because along with length and athleticism (which Green has plenty of), the main asset to being a tough perimeter defender is simply having the determination and grit to do it. Paul and Doc Rivers just need to try and unlock that aspect of Green’s game.

When looking at the potential fit of Gerald Green with the Clippers, though, it’s not out of the question that they could get more from him than they did from Matt Barnes. Yes, he doesn’t have the relentless, gritty defense of Barnes, or his will to do every little thing in his power to try and win, but Green can make a difference in other ways.

For a start, he can create offense. He has a very respectable mid range game after shooting 41.0 percent from 3-10 feet and 44.6 percent from 10-16 feet this year, and even made 35.4 percent of his threes. And looking back to his first year in Phoenix, when he was in a far better mental state, Green actually made 40.0 percent of his shots from behind the arc.

So with two players who can already create offense in Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers don’t actually have a forward who can play on the perimeter and make their own plays (both inside and out) like Green can.

With his strong finishing at the rim (66.0 percent from within three feet), highlight dunks to connect with Paul in transition, and shooting from both mid range and beyond the arc, Gerald Green has a lot to offer. The Clippers may have already led the league in offensive efficiency with 109.8 points per 100 possessions this year, but Green would bring even more size and explosiveness.

Oh, and even more buckets.

He may not have the mental toughness and veteran leadership that Paul Pierce would provide, but if The Truth stays in Washington, the Clippers have no choice but to consider someone else to bring that mental edge in the playoffs. Unfortunately, that’s not what they’re going to find with Gerald Green.

However, if he can grow defensively, and generally maximize his potential in a situation that he’s comfortable in, he could be the dynamic wing player that the Clippers need to go after.

Next: The Clippers have reached out to Jeremy Lin