Gerald Green's basketball journey is fascinating. Most casual NBA fans know him as a former NBA dunk contest winner who's been a bit of a vagabond. In his 10 years playing professional basketball, he's played on eight NBA teams, one NBA D-League team, two teams in Russia, and even one in China. His first stint in the NBA ended with the Mavericks in 2009 after he was unable to harness his considerable talent.
After two years overseas, Green slowly rebuilt his career, first with the LA D-Fenders (the Lakers' D-League team), then the Nets, followed by the Pacers. Green has spent the last two years with the Phoenix Suns, where he became a key rotation cog. Green actually credits his time in Dallas as key for helping to turn his career around, telling Grantland's Jonathan Abrams in 2012:
When you're winning, it's a whole different atmosphere. I didn't understand a winning atmosphere until I got to Dallas. When I got to Dallas, that's when I understood, ‘Wow. We've got to really take things seriously. These people don't play.'
His last two seasons have been the best in his career. At 29, he's still in his athletic peak and seems to have found an understanding of the game that was sorely lacking his first few years. He's settled in mainly as a bench scorer, shooting a strong 38 percent from beyond the arc in his time in Phoenix, while playing about 24 minutes per game (anyone remember the 30 points in 30 minutes he hung on the Mavs in April?).
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Green didn't finish the season on the best of terms with the Suns either, as Jeff Hornacek was vocally unhappy about the quality of Green's defense. Perhaps he has a point in the specific sense, but Green was a minor concern looking at the Suns as a whole. After a surprisingly strong 2013-14 campaign, the front office brought in Isaiah Thomas, which promptly mucked up a talented back court rotation featuring Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. The eventual trades of both Dragic and Thomas only underscore the dysfunction.
Green's 15.3 PER is slightly above league average and the Suns posted a better offensive rating with Green on the floor than off it. He's mentioned wanting to return to Phoenix, but his return is questionable at best.
Fit with the Mavericks
Does a tall (6'8") shooting guard who is solid from three point range and athletic enough to get to the rim fit in Dallas? In theory, a player with these traits fits with any team. In the "Pace and Space" era, Green is really an ideal rotation player.
Whether or not he fits with Rick Carlisle's "Read and React" offense is a different question. Green's first stint in Dallas was rocky mainly because Green couldn't remember plays and schemes. Any time you muck up both the defense and offense, you're going to sit on the bench. Clearly, Green has matured, but it's fair to question his basketball IQ. Carlisle requires players to understand both offensive and defensive adjustments within the flow of a game, and whether Green could adapt to that is not clear.
Of course, much of Green's fit depends on whether or not the Mavericks view Green as a starter or bench player. With so few players on the roster, it's safe to assume he would be further down on the Dallas wish list. As a starter, Green would probably disappoint. As a bench player, Green could become a massive asset, depending on the assembled starters. The way free agency is trending (crossing my fingers about both DeAndre Jordan and Al-Farouq Aminu), the Mavericks could potentially have a very athletic front court, so the addition of Green to what could be a lackluster back court might prove beneficial.
In the end, this is probably a long shot at best. But NBA free agency is essentially the Wild Wild West, so things could move in a hurry for Dallas. If the Mavericks are able to lock down a starting point guard and shooting guard within the first week, a player like Green should be on their radar.