The Thunder is in the market for a shooting guard. Either by newcomer or oldcomer. Maybe free agent. Maybe trade. Maybe Jeremy Lamb. Maybe Reggie Jackson. But it seems clear that Thabo Sefolosha’s days are over in Oklahoma City.
And here’s who the Thunder needs. Someone like Danny Green.
I know, it’s quite an opportunistic time to be espousing Green, who played sensationally in the NBA Finals: 21.2 minutes, 9.2 points and 2.0 steals per game, on 53.1 shooting, including 45 percent 3-point shooting. Plus solid defense on Dwyane Wade and occasionally LeBron James.
Green doesn’t always play like that. But he does a lot. We’ve seen him enough battling the Thunder to know that.
And it’s not like Green is available. The Thunder doesn’t need Danny Green. Or at least shouldn’t covet the unattainable. The Thunder needs someone like Danny Green. Good shooter. Solid defender.
That’s it. Nothing spectacular. Nothing stunning. Just a good shooter and solid defender.
And here’s the good news. The world is full of players like that. You just have to identify them. Sure, the Arron Afflalos and Trevor Arizas are easy to pick out. That’s why they make $7-8 million a year. The hard part is finding the Danny Greens who haven’t been given the chance.
Maybe that’s Jeremy Lamb. Maybe that’s a collegian who wasn’t in a spot to shine while on campus. Maybe that’s a journeyman who never found the right fit. Maybe that’s a scrapper who just never got the chance.
That’s Sam Presti’s job. Find a Danny Green in the brushpile.
The Green story is worth retelling. While the Spurs found Kawhi Leonard on the San Diego State campus and ID’d him as Spurs material, even trading a player they loved, George Hill, to Indiana for the draft pick of Leonard, it took even Gregg Popovich awhile to figure out what he had in Green.
Here is the Green timeline:
Drafted by the Cavaliers in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft, after starting on North Carolina’s star-studded NCAA title team.
Played 20 games and 115 minutes for those Cavs. He was a teammate of LeBron. During the season, Green spent four days with the D-League’s Erie BayHawks.
In October 2010, the Cavs cut Green.
In November 2010, the Spurs signed Green. He played two games and was cut.
In March 2011, the Spurs re-signed Green. He played six games the rest of the regular season. He was sent to the D-League’s Austin Toros for a game but was immediately recalled. In the playoffs, Green played in four games of the Memphis series, all in limited duty.’
During the lockout of 2011, Green went to Europe and played for a team in Slovenia.
When the lockout was over, Green made the Spurs squad, played in all 66 games of that shortened season and became a starter in February.
The rest you should know. In July 2012, Green signed a three-year contract for approximately $11.3 million total.
That’s an NBA success story, but let’s not pretend the Spurs found a diamond in the rough. Let’s not pretend they spotted another Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili or even Leonard and nurtured him along. The Spurs cut Green once and let him languish on the bench for long stretches another time.
Sometimes the very thing you’re looking for is the one thing you can’t see. Even if you’re Gregg Popovich.
So while the Thunder seeks a quality shooting guard, Presti can look to the draft or look to the free-agent market or even look on the Thunder bench.
He might also look under a rock. Sometimes that’s where you find gems.
They’re hard to find. But they are out there.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at . He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.