The player who, for better or worse, defined the end of the so-called “New Big Three” era for the Boston Celtics is gone.
Jeff Green, who never seemed to fulfill his vast potential in Boston, was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in a three-team deal that was finalized Monday. The trade, which had been reported since late last week and throughout the weekend, will bring Memphis’ Tayshaun Prince, a reported 2019 conditional first-round draft pick and New Orleans Pelicans guard Austin Rivers to Boston.
The Pelicans will receive Quincy Pondexter and a 2015 second-round draft pick for helping facilitate the trade, while Russ Smith will join the Grizzlies from New Orleans.
Thus ends a maddening 4 1/2-year career for Green in Boston — interrupted by a year recovering from open-heart surgery in 2011-12 — that never yielded the championship-caliber promise Celtics fans hoped for. Extending the Celtics’ title window had to be on team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge’s mind when he executed the infamous 2011 trade to acquire Green from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for center Kendrick Perkins.
To this day, many Celtics fans point to that deal as the turning point in thwarting an 18th championship banner being hung at TD Garden. Green averaged 14.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in 222 games with the Celtics. He contributed numerous individual highlights, but never produced consistently or efficiently enough to emerge as a true star — or to lift the team out of mediocrity.
Rivers, the 10th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, is not expected to last long in Boston. The son of former Celtics coach Doc Rivers reportedly could be on the move immediately to his father’s current team, the Los Angeles Clippers.
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