Had a conversation with Oklahoma City second-year forward Jeff Green today a few hours before the team tips off its second game in the Orlando Pro Summer League. Green, who has never been to OKC, talked about when he’ll arrive, what he knows about the city and its fans, rookie guard Russell Westbrook, why he chose to play in the summer league again and how good he thinks the team can be next season.
Q: When do you plan on coming out here?
A: At the end of this month I’ll be out for a couple of days looking for a place, and then for good I want to say in August.
Q: What are you plans from August to October?
A: Just to keep myself in shape, get ready for the season.
Q: How are you going to go about looking for a house?
A: Just find a place that’s comfortable. They say they’re building a practice arena by next year, so probably somewhere in that area or close to the arena. It just depends on where it’s at.
Q: Have you ever been to Oklahoma City?
A: I have not.
Q: What do you know about it? What have you heard?
A: I know it’s southern, because I’ve got family from Alabama and they tell me about it. The tornadoes, the normal stuff that people hear about when they hear Oklahoma. I heard it’s a vibrant community, places are being built to liven up the city atmosphere. So I heard good things.
Q: Have you talked to Kevin Durant at all about what he knows about the city and state from his Big 12 days?
A: Actually, I had the chance to talk to Tyson Chandler last year when I went to USA Basketball and the word got out that we might end up moving last year. And he told me the fans were great. They always were appreciative whether (the Hornets) won or loss, so that’s always a good thing because they’re always willing to stand behind us.
Q: What would you like to add to your game next season?
A: Just be a more all-around player, because last year I was mainly a defensive player or being a guy who was trying to create energy. But now I’m put in a position where I’m handling the ball a lot. The ball is in my hands. This summer league, we’re experimenting with that. So hopefully being a guy who can play both ends and be effective on both ends.
Q: What position do you feel most comfortable at?
A: I’m more comfortable at (small forward), but I can play multiple positions. I’m not a guy who’s mainly a (small forward). I can play (shooting guard, small forward and power forward). So wherever I feel comfortable at just depends on who we’re playing against.
Q: Has P.J. Carlesimo taken time yet this summer to talk about your role and what he expects out of you next season?
A: Before I left to go home for the summer we talked a little bit about it. He just wants me to do the same thing I did yesterday (Monday), but be more effective and aggressive on the offensive end. Last year, I was kind of hesitant to take shots in the beginning and middle of the season. Toward the end I got more comfortable with that. But he just wants me to be more aggressive on both ends.
Q: How much more comfortable are you heading into next season with a full year under your belt?
A: A lot more comfortable. I think one year in the NBA helps you a lot. I think it helps you know the game. It helps you learn the ins and outs of the game. It makes it easier on you. So that one year really helped me out a lot.
Q: Why did you choose to play in summer league again this year when you could have sat it out?
A: Because we’re a young team. We have D.J. White and Russell Westbrook, two guys who are very young who are coming into the same situation that we came into last year, coming into new surroundings. So we wanted to get the heads-up to them. We’re coming in next year all together young guys, but we want to make a statement that we can play with some of the top teams out there. It’s just going to take hard work, so we’re going to have to come in and get a feel for them and let them get a feel for us so that when the season comes we already have that chemistry among all of us.
Q: What were your initial impressions of Russell after his performance yesterday (Monday)?
A: That guy is unbelievable. I think he might have been the top prospect above the guys that were drafted before him. He plays both ends very well. He’s a very good defensive player. He puts pressure on the opposing team’s guards. He can also push the ball. He can shoot the ball. That guy is a future All-Star as long as he keeps working.
Q: Future All-Star?
A: Yeah. He’s very athletic. He can do a lot of things on the floor.
Q: With the additions that you guys made, how much better do you see this team being next season?
A: A lot better. We’re making strides to be one of the top teams, hopefully. We’ve been put in a good position down the road, whether it’s this year or next year. We’ve just got to be patient and continue to get better with each game.