Jeff Green is playing for his sixth team in eight years and tenth overall, but for him playing for the Brooklyn Nets has a different feel. The 34-year-old veteran is not only joining another team with championship aspirations but reuniting with Kevin Durant, who he labeled as “one of his brothers.”
“Just the chance we have to compete for a championship,” Green said about his new opportunity. “Obviously, doing it with somebody I call one of my brothers. Being from the same area, coming in during the same year, obviously, our careers parted different paths but just having this opportunity to be alongside him to have this experience is going to all that and more.”
The relationship between Green and Durant dates back to their childhood in Prince George County in Maryland. Although the two did not know each other, they had mutual friends. Their relationship began to blossom when both players were rookies on the Seattle Supersonics back in 2007.
Green is excited to reunite with Durant and said he’s rooted for him throughout his career. The 34-year-old veteran wants to help Durant win his third ring ... and get his first.
“Our relationship didn’t start building to what it is today till we actually got to Seattle,” Green said of their friendship. “I am a couple of years older. He went to private school while I was in public school, so we never crossed paths. But we have friends that are in the same circle. It was like I knew him but I didn’t.
“It started in Seattle. We’ve grown closer. I was 20 when I came in and he was 18 and I was by myself when I moved out to Seattle. The mutual friends that we have in common were out there alongside him so we were together a lot.
“That is where the friendship started to build, it continued to build over the years, and it became much stronger. I’m excited for this opportunity to play alongside him. Watching him, all the wonderful things he has done throughout his career, and being a fan of the game and a fan of him, rooting for him because he represents where we come from, it’s great to see. Just happy I can come here and try to do my part to help him win a third ring and hopefully get my first. It’s going to be fun.”
Green was asked about what his advice to his teammates will be about playing with Durant considering the two-time NBA champion is coming off an Achilles injury. He does not believe that changes anything. He wants to do anything he can to take any load off Durant that he can.
“I don’t think it changes at all,” Green said. “Kevin is going to be Kevin. For me, I’ll try to adjust to what he brings. Try to see what ways I can help him take the load off of him and help him do what he does. I do not know where I will be on the floor but I know I will be out there playing hard, playing defense, and try to get out there in a position to help my teammates in any way I can.”
Along with reuniting with Durant, Green reunites with his former Houston Rockets head coach, Mike D’Antoni. D’Antoni coached Green in the ‘bubble’ last season. In fact, the 34-year-old veteran had the best offensive season of his career under D’Antoni … again at age 34. He shot 56/35/86 ... even if in a small sample. Here’s some highlights...
Green said he and D’Antoni reflected a bit about their time in Houston but the Nets potential stretch-five is excited to play with him in his corner again.
“It’s great,” Green said with a smile. “I saw him the other day and talked a bit about the small window of memories we had together. I was very effective under his offensive influence so hopefully, that can translate here to help this team in any way possible. I’m excited. I’m excited to be alongside him, Coach Nash, and the personnel we have on this team. I think it is going to be a great year.”
Green, in addition to Durant, played with some other Nets as well such as DeAndre Jordan. Although Green knows how those guys play, it does make the adjustment a bit smoother but he points out that those same players have or could have different roles than their previous stops.
“Obviously, knowing a couple of guys does make it easier,” Green said about making an instant impact with the Nets. “Knowing what they like to do on the floor but I’d say some have grown into a different role since the last time I played with them so you still have to adjust to where they are at this point in their career and how they like to play. That is where the practices and everything will come in but knowing them personally helps the adjustment. Knowing how and who to communicate with that person. “
As for Green’s role with the Nets, it is clear he will see minutes as a stretch 5. Steve Nash noted on Tuesday that he is interested in playing Green at the 5 and the 34-year-old veteran played a good amount of stretch-five under D’Antoni, who will be serving as the Nets offensive coordinator.
Green noted playing the stretch 5 in Houston was not a big adjustment. He calls himself a ‘versatile’ player who can play any position.
“It wasn’t a big adjustment,” Green said about playing center. “I would say, at the end of the day, I go out there and just play basketball. Throughout my career, no matter how many teams I played with, I have always been somebody who is going to be versatile. Whether it is bringing the ball up the floor, posting, playing on the perimeter, guarding 1-through-5, I have done it my whole career.
“Playing the 5 is not really playing the position. It is going out there and just fulfilling a spot on the floor. Trying to find the open spots, knock down shots, and creating opportunities for my teammates.”
As for how Green prepared for the upcoming season, he did not have many opportunities to play basketball after the Rockets were eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the bubble. For him, not having any run-ins on the hardwood was the biggest challenge.
In addition, Green was very careful with his health during the COVID-19 global pandemic. The veteran did not travel during the offseason and stayed home. He is looking forward to practice, saying he can ‘honestly say that.’
“The hardest part for me was not having the opportunity to actually play after the bubble,” Green said about the off-season. “It’s been tough trying to find places where the group settings can actually take place and to actually get playing time in. For me, that was probably the hardest adjustment. I was lucky to play in the bubble, went second-round, so I think that is mid-September after we lost to the Lakers. That was the last time I played so making the adjustment, going to a new team, new personnel, not having a chance to actually play with these guys, just getting up and down, get a rhythm, and everything. That’s been the hardest part of the off-season. Not having the opportunity to just get runs in.
“Obviously, they were taking place in other places but I wasn’t about that travel life during this pandemic so I stayed at home and kept to myself. I’m looking forward to practices to start, get the opportunity to actually get going and playing, and so I am really looking forward to practice. I honestly say that.”
He like the rest of the Nets will start full practices on Sunday.
- Nets’ Jeff Green eager to help chase title with friend Kevin Durant - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Jeff Green ready to once again play alongside Kevin Durant: ‘Somebody I call one of my brothers’ - Nick Friar - USA Today
- BROOKLYN NETS MEDIA WEEK: JEFF GREEN REUNITES WITH KEVIN DURANT - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets