Wait, did Jeff Green choose the Cavaliers to marry Tyronn Lue’s daughter?
WASHINGTON — Jeff Green’s response when asked why he picked the Cavaliers as his new team and accepting a veteran’s minimum salary to do it was to look around the locker room.
The talent seems endless, and to Green so does the Cavs’ potential.
“Look at the opportunity we have, I have to learn, to win a championship, to learn from LeBron and D-Wade now,” Green said Sunday, after leading Cleveland with 19 points in a 102-94 preseason loss to the Wizards. “The championship pedigree is something you want to play for every year. I had that opportunity when they called and now I have it. It was a no-brainer to pick Cleveland to win the championship this year.”
Out of all those names Green says attracted him to Cleveland — James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Love (maybe), Isaiah Thomas (perhaps), Jae Crowder (sure, why not), and Derrick Rose (of course) — only James and Love were Cavs when Green made his choice.
Green agreed to a $2.3 million deal to come to the Cavs on July 8. Yes, James, Love, and Kyrie Irving had take the team to three straight Finals and won one, but the huge trade that shipped Irving to Boston for Thomas and Crowder, as well as the minimum contracts for Wade (a 12-time All-Star) and Rose (former NBA MVP) were all after Green joined the team.
The more obvious reason Green came here is his relationship with Tyronn Lue, which grew when Lue was an assistant coach in Boston and personally worked to rebuild Green as a player after he missed the entire 2011-12 season because of a heart condition that required surgery.
And Green’s surgery, of course, was done at the Cleveland Clinic.
“When you think about it, it’s a place (Cleveland) that gave me new life and hopefully this year it can give me a refresher on my career,” Green said. “So I guess Cleveland is a city for me that brings a lot of newness to my life. We’ll see at the end of this year — in June — what that turns out to be.”
Green, 30, is coming off his worst season as a pro last year with the Orlando Magic, during which he averaged 9.2 points and shot .394 from the field. Both were career lows.
Neither Green nor Lue had much to say about Green’s bad season. He’s a 6-9 forward who can run the floor, defend, pass and score; averaging 13.5 ppg for his career.
“Everybody has their opinions of what Jeff Green should be or what I can do, but I have to go out there and prove it to myself that I work hard and I put in the work to be in the position I’m in,” Green said.
Lue, who called Green as a free agent and told him he wanted him in Cleveland, has been effusive in his praise of Green since his arrival. Green has a spot in Lue’s rotation, essentially booting Channing Frye out of the rotation, and Sunday against the Wizards was the Cavs’ best player.
Part of that was because, well, all those big names you see around the Cavs’ locker room, none of them played in the game. Lue held them all out, which cleared space for Green to assert himself. He shot 8-of-14 from the field and collected seven rebounds.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Green’s dunk, the one in which he soared over the 6-11 Ian Mahinmi and posterized him with a one-handed slam in the second quarter.
“That dunk was ridiculous,” Lue said. “You’ve gotta push him because he’s a great talent but he’ll take a step back to let other guys do their thing.
“Where I want him to be aggressive all the time and just staying engaged. That’s just a nice guy that he is.”
Lue went so far as to say if he had a daughter, he’d want Green to be the man she brought home. Green said to “have a coach like” Lue, “that’s all you can ask for.”
That, and a locker room full of stars.