On the day Gerald Green was given a blank page to write the next chapter of his career, he took one of sports most used idioms to a new level in describing his eagerness to prove he belongs in the NBA.
"I’m so hungry I could eat this phone,” Green said during a telephone interview Wednesday, the day he became an unrestricted free agent.
Green, the 6-foot-8 swingman who surrendered a scholarship to Oklahoma State in 2005 to jump straight to the NBA, is now a four-year veteran. He’s played for four different coaches on four different teams.
"It’s been a roller-coaster,” said Green about the start to his career. "It’s gone up and down and in circles. But I don’t ever give up.”
It’s low-risk, high-reward players like Green that Thunder general manager Sam Presti has become known for targeting. Green turned only 23 in January and figures to be four years from entering into the prime of his career. For now, he’s seemingly a cost-effective option that potentially could provide Oklahoma City with another perimeter shooter and rangy defender on the wing.
And after four seasons of instability, Green is out to established himself as more than a dunker and better than a bust.
"I’ve come through a lot just to get to the league, and now that I’m here I’m going through a lot more,” Green said. "So when I say I’m so hungry for it, it’s because I can’t wait. I really can’t.”
Green tasted his first professional tribulation before he officially became a pro. Projected as a lottery pick in the 2005 draft, he fell to Boston at pick No. 18.
He stepped onto a Celtics roster with established wing players in Paul Pierce and Ricky Davis. Injuries to Wally Szczerbiak in Green’s second season allowed Green to flash his potential with a 10.4-point scoring averaging in 22 minutes per game.
But Green was traded to Minnesota in the Kevin Garnett deal in July 2007 and was on the short end of an even larger logjam behind Rashard McCants, Ryan Gomes and Corey Brewer. Green’s scoring averaged dipped to a career-low 5.1 points in 29 games before a mid-season trade to Houston. He lasted just two weeks in Houston, playing in one game before being released when the injury-plagued Rockets needed frontcourt relief.
Green spent last season in Dallas after signing a one-year contract. He played in 38 games and averaged 5.