It’s been a very long road around the world and back again for Gerald Green.
Over the weekend the former McDonald’s All-American, first round draft pick (18th overall) by the Boston Celtics in 2005, and 2007 Slam Dunk champ moved a step closer to his NBA comeback.
Next stop -- New Jersey.
According to multiple reports, Green signed a 10-day contract with the Nets on Monday after working out for the team on Sunday against Alan Anderson, the former Michigan Start swing guard who finished this season playing with the Shandong Lions in the Chinese Basketball Association.
It completes a whirlwind last few days for Green, who was named the MVP of the D-League All-Star Game, after finishing with 28 points on 10-for-17 shooting which included 3-for-8 on 3s.
This season with the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Green averaged 19.1 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 48 % from the field and 46 % from 3-point. Knowing where the 26-year-old has been to get to this point, it’s evident the hard work and maturation of Green’s game has paid off.
“Gerald was great for us and played hard every night. He is a great guy who has a passion to improve and he got better every day while gaining confidence with each game,” D-Fenders head coach Eric Musselman told Crossover Chronicles.
“He did everything we asked. He was a great teammate and extremely coachable -- one of my all-time favorites to coach.”
This may not sound like the Gerald Green most are familiar with. Ever since last playing in 38 games for the Dallas Mavericks during the 2008-09 season, the swing guard out of Houston, Texas has been steadily trying to revive his very young career. The knock on Green: his game is one-dimensional and has a lot of growing up to do. That's what can happen when you draft a kid straight from high school as the Celtics did in 2005. That was story during Green's two seasons in Boston and bouncing around the league with Minnesota and Houston, before finally signing with the Mavs.
But this is a different Gerald Green -- a new Green if you wiil. So what changed?
Guys have a tendency to grow up real fast overseas. And that’s exactly what Green has done over the course of the last three years since leaving the NBA.
“It was tough,” Green said at the D-League All-Star Game.
“I had to go overseas and kinda re-find myself. I had to rebuild what I had started going early in my career. I’m just glad to be back in the States where I can see old faces and old friends, and I’m just so happy to be here. I really am.”
He played in Russia with PBC Lokomotiv-Kuban and BC Krasnye Krylia before moving on to China. Green started the season with the Foshan Dralions in the Chinese Basketball Association, where he averaged 26.5 points on .545 shooting from the field through four games before signing with the Los Angeles Lakers in training camp and eventually being waived before preseason.
It was clear once Green signed in the D-League with the D-Fenders that his game was already more refined. The stops in Russia and China certainly helped, as did the short amount of time spent with the Lakers in training camp (Green also spent the 2010 summer league with Los Angeles).
The athletic ability has always been there. Now Green’s made the necessary defensive improvements to his game, along with maturing off the court too.
“Gerald has improved in so many ways this year. His shooting range game, ball handling and decision-making have all improved,” added Musselman.
“He really bought in to playing defense and not only is he a better individual defender, but a good team defender as well.”
It was only a matter of time before Green received another look from another team in the league.
Now he can only hope the Nets like what they see.