• Brian L. Barefield

Versatility Green is helping the Rockets prepare to make a deep run with his play off the bench.

For some, February 17, 2020 was just another Monday where people on social media usually complaining about going back to work and how they wish they could have just one more day at home.

Sidenote: Who knew that one month later the nation would come to a screeching halt and everyone had to be quarantined due the coronavirus. I digress.

No one knew that on that third Monday in February that the Houston Rockets would acquire an intricate piece to their eventual “Small Ball” puzzle which could potentially lead them to an NBA Championship this season. The Rockets signed veteran swingman Jeff Green after he had been waived by the Utah Jazz back in late December. Utah was Jeff’s seventh team in his 12-year career, and some believed it would be his last one in the NBA.

The No.5 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft out of Georgetown didn’t expect his phone to ring so soon. He figured that a team with a great chance to make a deep playoff run would call him later on during the season. Little did he know that he had strong advocates on the Rockets pushing for general manager Daryl Morey to sign him.

The Rockets were in desperate need of another player that could relieve forward P.J. Tucker who was thrust into the role of center after Houston had traded Clint Capela two weeks earlier to the Atlanta Hawks. Head coach Mike D’Antoni’s decision to play a non-traditional style of no true center caused a void that needed to be filled quickly.

As soon as Green’s name came across the radar players like Tucker and superstars James Harden and Russell Westbrook, the latter two being teammates with Green when they were all with the Oklahoma City Thunder were on board with bringing him to the team.

“When they first brought his name up, I was one of the first people to say, ‘We’ve got to have him,’” said Tucker on Wednesday during his press conference. “I’m glad that we did, and I think he’s going to be a big part of us being able to go as far as we want to go.”

So far, Green is helping take Houston to new heights on both ends of the floor. The Rockets are now 3-1 since the season restarted at ESPN Disney and their last four games is a true testament on why Morey signed Green to a contract extension for the rest of the season after his 10-day initial deal had expired.

The veteran swingman is averaging 14 points a game over the last four played and stepped up big time with 15 points off the bench in the 113-97 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night. Something that a player like Harden can appreciate on a night when Westbrook was not available due to a lower leg injury.

“He is a huge part of what we do. Especially coming off of the bench,” said Harden. “He so versatile. Defensively he is active. He is able to guard big’s and guard’s and he is rebounding at a high level. Offensively he is able to knock down a shot and put the ball on the floor and able to finish at the rim. He fits perfectly into what we are doing.”

With four games left before the 2020 NBA Playoffs begin, coach D’Antoni has done some mixing and matching of different lineups due to injuries and trying to find a consistent rotation. One player who will be the first to hear their name call is Jeff Green.

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