Former Celtic Green learning in the D-League

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Former Celtic Green learning in the D-League

ORLANDO, Fla. It's all-star weekend, and former Boston Celtic Gerald Green is stealing all the attention.

But this is in front of a sparse crowd, the kind he has grown more accustomed to during his post-Celtic career.

It's the D-League All-Star game, one in which Green's West team won, 135-132, and he was the MVP with 28 points on 10-for-17 shooting which included 3-for-8 on 3s.

Now with the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the D-League, Green is no different than the other 19 D-League all-stars, hoping his play shined brightly enough to get a call-up to the NBA.

"He'll get another shot sooner or later," one NBA scout said. "He's too talented, and he's still young. And watching him out here, he's just a different kind of athlete than the other guys here."

And the D-League is full of athletes, for sure.

But for the most part, they come with a noticeable flaw.

Big men are often undersized; guards can shoot but often have shaky ball-handling skills; some are great playmakers but can't defend.

"There's a reason -- maybe two or three reasons -- why all these guys are here," another scout said.

And then there's Green, who has the size (6-foot-8), speed and athleticism to be on just about any NBA team's roster.

Right now, the only thing that's holding him back? Opportunity.

Teams have been reluctant to roll the dice on him again, concerned with what he admits was a lack of maturity earlier in his NBA career. After two seasons with the Celtics (2006-2007), Green bounced around the next couple years with short stints in Minnesota, Houston and Dallas. After that, Green had no choice but to take his game overseas.

While he has no regrets about entering the NBA straight out of high school, he readily admits that his youth played a role in his early struggles.

"I was young, out of high school, immature things didn't click as fast as things click to me now," Green said. "I'm a lot smarter. I'm a lot more humble than I was. I don't take things for granted anymore."

That's a common sentiment for guys who have to take their talents overseas when opportunities dry up in the NBA.

"Being overseas, that's a man business," Green said. "You can't go over there being a little kid. You're in the middle of nowhere. I grew up a lot faster being overseas, which I think is a good thing."

He added, "I had to go overseas, kind of refine myself, rebuild what I had started earlier in my career."

One of the first things he's had to do is shed the image that all he can do is dunk the ball. That comes with the territory when the most notable thing on your NBA resume was winning the Slam Dunk competition in 2007. That was a big reason why he did not want to participate in the D-League's slam dunk competition on Saturday.

Today, Green wants to be seen as a more complete player who, wisely enough, does a better job of learning more from those around him.

He had a chance to spend a week with the Los Angeles Lakers before the season, and said he paid close attention to Kobe Bryant.

"He took practices like a game," Green said of Bryant. "His focus was unbelievable. That's one thing I kind of took from that."

Those lessons, coupled with his play of late for the D-Fenders -- he's averaging 19.1 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 48 percent from the field and better than 46 percent on 3s -- has the 25-year-old Green optimistic that his return to the NBA will be come eventually.

"I am so happy that things are starting to look good for me," he said. "I'm just excited."

Drellich: Why David Ortiz should hang around the Red Sox more often

Drellich: Why David Ortiz should hang around the Red Sox more often

BOSTON — David Ortiz should stop by Fenway Park more often. 

There may be no tangible gain for his old teammates. At this point, it defies logic to think there’d be tangible harm.

On Thursday evening before Ortiz’s charity roast at House of Blues, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy recalled how it was a no-brainer to plan Friday’s jersey retirement so soon after Ortiz’s exit from the game. 

Kennedy said he was the one who actually broached the question with team management last year. Basically, everyone looked at him sideways because of the implication any other time but right away made sense.

“No person has meant more to the [John] Henry-[Larry] Lucchino-[Tom] Werner era than David Ortiz,” Kennedy said.

Let’s accept the premise wholly: that because Ortiz is so special, the timing for his ceremony deserved to be just as unique. The design of the day was centered on how much Ortiz means to people: fans, the team.

Why, then, has Ortiz been staying away from the ballclub? Dustin Pedroia has been a leader for years. Ortiz is a positive influence. The idea that having Big Papi swing by Fenway sometimes would actively stunt the development of the Red Sox’ identity is a stretch. 

There’s been a grace period of nearly three months. 

“Well I, I could never entirely walk away. I have been around,” Ortiz said Friday night in a press conference. “I have been watching the games and I have been in touch with my teammates. I have been in touch with the organization. You know, I just don’t like to, you know, be in the way of anything. 

“I know that, me retiring, it was going to have a big impact on what we do around here. So I don’t — I tell myself, give everybody their space and I don’t want to, now that I’m not playing, I don’t want to be a distraction. And I know that coming to the field sometimes, it can cause a distraction or something, so. I have been able to keep my distance so I’m not in nobody’s way. But I stay in touch with everybody and I have been pretty busy also, doing a lot of things. 

“But me and the organization, we’ve been talking for a while about me working with the organization. Probably Sam Kennedy can give you guys more info about it. But it’s going to happen, and at some point I’m going to be able to help out somewhere, somehow some way.”

It’d be ridiculous to say Ortiz is the reason Rick Porcello pitched well and Hanley Ramirez homered Friday. It’d be a flat-out lie.

But Ortiz’s presence shouldn’t somehow be a distraction, if leadership and the mentality in the Red Sox clubhouse is as the Red Sox describe it.

"Pedey has been a leader of this team for the entire time he's been here,” manager John Farrell said Friday. “To me, the clubhouse has been a place where guys have felt comfortable. They've been able to come in and be themselves. They have rallied around one another when times have called for that. When you remove an individual, there are going to be other people who step up. I firmly believe that has taken place.”

If that’s the case, then how does what Farrell said in the same pregame press conference yesterday make sense?

“[Ortiz] has a keen awareness that he could potentially keep others from flourishing with the potential thought and the question always being there,” Farrell said. “Well, he is around, is he ever coming back? All the things that I think have been reported on to a certain extent. I think David's keen awareness of himself and how a team works, I wouldn't be surprised if that is at the root of his decision to keep the space that he's done.”

But that decision seems flawed. No one in that room should be hurt or confused by Ortiz coming by occasionally — absolutely not now that the jersey’s hanging. (A little speculation he could un-retire was throwing the Sox off their game? Really?) 

If anything, the team should find comfort in seeing such an important, charismatic man with ties to the group.

Ortiz is special. The team has adapted well without him. If those are facts, the need for Ortiz to stay away doesn’t make sense.

Did Suns ask Josh Jackson to cancel his Celtics workout to keep him from Boston?

Did Suns ask Josh Jackson to cancel his Celtics workout to keep him from Boston?

Danny Ainge made no secret of being miffed when Kansas small forward Josh Jackson canceled his workout with the Celtics in Sacramento at the last minute. 

The Celtics, of course, passed on Jackson and selected Jayson Tatum of Duke with the third overall pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday night.

Suns GM Ryan McDonough's comments at Jackson's introductory press conference lend some credence to the theory that the canceled workout was part of Phoenix's plan to keep the Celtics from selecting Jackson and leave him for the Suns at No. 4.

Check out this portion of Jackson's presser via a tweet from Mike McClune of KPHO-TV: 

"I think you guys who know me well know how competitive I am. Look, it is a competition," said McDonough, a former assistant GM to Ainge with the C's "The Celtics were ahead of us at No. 3 and they could have selected whoever they wanted to. I think they got a very good player in Jayson Tatum, but that doesn’t mean B.J. [Armstrong, Jackson's agent] and I and...other members of my staff couldn’t talk and try to formulate the best plan to get a player we were really high on to a place we felt he really wanted to go and would be a great fit for him.

"We played by the rules – I guess,” McDonough said to some laughter in the room.

Jackson will certainly get more playing time with the rebuilding Suns that the contending Celtics. Ainge called Jackson "a terrific kid and a good player” after the draft, and said the Celtics were set on Tatum all along, even if they hadn't traded the No. 1 pick.

Jackson said his decision to blow off Ainge coach Brad Stevens and assistant GM Mike Zarren after their cross-country flight was "last-minute" and his plans to work out "just didn't work out."