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Jeff Green became odd man out with rise of Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka

by Jenni Carlson Published: February 24, 2011

Now, the Thunder is ready to take off the training wheels and see what Ibaka can do full-time.

That much is clear with the team's decision to trade Green. If Ibaka wasn't ready to take over that No. 4 spot and give the Thunder a true power forward, the Thunder wouldn't have made the trade sending Green to the Celtics.

This franchise didn't make the deal because it dislikes Green. It did it because he became an expendable piece of the core.

Perhaps the players even recognized the change on a subconscious level. When the team first arrived here, Green was one of the guys who hung with Durant and Westbrook off the court. They would go to dinner. They would play video games. They would chill.

In the past year or so, Green didn't run with those guys as much. James Harden, Eric Maynor and Ibaka did. That bunch even went together to All-Star Weekend.

They went sans Green.

Now, they'll be going without him permanently.

There's a chance, of course, that the Thunder could tender Green an offer during the offseason and bring him back to Oklahoma City. He'll be a restricted free agent, after all, and if the Thunder really wants him, it could make an offer just like any other team.

But where would Green fit in?

That's the problem now, and it will remain the problem four months from now.

The Thunder made moves Thursday that will make it bigger in the post. That will make it more defensive minded. That will make it better equipped for a long playoff run.

That's the theory anyway.

If things don't go as planned, this move will go down as a clunker, trading away a player as talented as Green and not bringing in anyone as good as he is. But if Sam Presti and Scott Brooks and all the other Thunder decision makers are right, this trade deadline will be the day that the Thunder did something amazing.

It got better without getting more talented.

Sound-Off: What did you think of the trade? Mayberry: Five quick thoughts
by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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