The Orlando Magic led off their introductory press conferences on Thursday with veteran small forward Jeff Green. The former Georgetown Hoya signed a one-year, $15 million dollar deal after splitting last year between the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers.
Green can be viewed as a representation of this offseason, the next in a line of veterans brought in to reshape the Magic locker room. His no-nonsense game is predicated on physical defense; his highlight reel is mostly rim rattling dunks.
As far back as his days at Georgetown, he was predicted to be a star. Scouts saw potential in his explosive athleticism, defensive tenacity, and coachable jump shot.
That potential has never been realized, however.
In his second season, he posted averages of 16.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. The years since have produced mediocrity – flashes of talent, like his 30-point outing against the Magic last year-- but far from his fifth overall draft status. Instead of a player that is good at everything, he became average across the board.
He has been the victim of front office overhauls and positional timeshares, but he could never do enough to cement his spot after leaving the Boston Celtics midway through the 2014-15 season.
For most of his career it has been about what can Jeff Green learn. In Orlando, it will be more about what he can teach – specifically to their young, athletic phenom Aaron Gordon.
"I know Aaron is a hard worker," said Green. "I’ve seen his growth through the couple years he’s been in the league, and I watched him in college." Green, the oldest Magic forward at 29, said that his job is to lead by example. And that means to "come in and work, and work, and work to get better."
Throughout his eight-year career he has endured it all, from being drafted to the Seattle Supersonics, to missing a season due to open heart surgery, to filling in for an injured Blake Griffin on last year’s ill-fated Clippers team during the playoffs.
Though he is still young, Green feels that experience is the biggest thing he brings to this even younger Magic team.
"Being in the playoffs a number of years throughout my career, just that experience itself can help put that team to the next level," said Green during his Thursday introduction.
The old adage is "there is no such thing as a bad one-year deal", and Green fills a positional need.
"You can probably fill in every box," said Green when addressing what he brings to the table. "Being versatile, being a stretch four or a three, a leader, you know I’ve been through a lot in my career – playoffs, played with some of the greats I’ve learned a lot through my career. Playing with KG (Kevin Garnett), Paul Pierce, I can pass on some of the things I’ve learned from them with Aaron (Gordon), and Elfrid (Payton). "
This signing is beneficial for both sides. For the Magic, it adds depth at their most needed position. For Green, it’s a chance to change his luck after playing for three teams in the last two years.
Orlando is a natural fit for the combo forward, who has long-lasting ties all over the organization. From Frank Vogel, who he met through his college teammate Roy Hibbert, to Magic assistant GM Scott Perry, who was part of the staff that drafted him in Seattle. Those Seattle/Oklahoma City ties also meant that he was scouted by Rob Hennigan, and played right alongside Serge Ibaka.
Green said that the Magic were "everything you look for in a team when you’re a free agent. This city, the organization, it has everything that was on my checklist." Green also added that next year the team should be able to "match up with pretty much anybody". This was his first time as a free agent, and chose to play for Orlando.
He made no bones about it though; he knows he’s here to win. "I've been where they're trying to get," said Green. "That's the playoffs. I would like to get further than I have been."