Green appears to have found his way

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Green appears to have found his way

NEWARK, N.J. Gerald Green saunters into the New Jersey Nets locker room, squeezing his svelte, muscular frame in between teammates Shelden Williams and Jordan Williams.

The image is a fitting one for Green, who has indeed carved out a spot for himself inside a Nets locker room that's likely to look radically different a year from now.

To see him in any NBA locker room, regardless of how good or bad they are, is a major step forward for a ridiculously gifted athletic wing man who has been out of the NBA for three years.

Unless you were around him when he arrived like a bolt of lightning straight out of high school, you can't possibly understand or appreciate how far he has come.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers can.

"I am so proud of him; about as proud of him as I am of any guy," Rivers said. "He just needed time to grow up; not just as a player. I thought he was a pretty good player when he walked into the league. He had a lot to work on basketball-wise, but he just had to figure out things in life."

Part of figuring out life is to make mistakes, but gain enough wisdom not to repeat them.

Green admits when he came into the NBA, he was hard-headed and didn't latch on to the lessons that Rivers wanted to teach him.

So the C's cut him loose, a similar fate that would follow him with short-lived stints in Dallas, Minnesota and Houston.

When the Celtics played the Nets earlier this year in Boston, Rivers had a chance to sit down and talk with Green.

"The first thing he told me is, 'if I would have listened to all the things you and your staff was telling me and put it into play, I would probably still be here,'" Rivers recalled.

Rivers, always one with a quick-witted response, told him, "'no, we would have traded you. We needed to get Kevin and those guys.' Having said that, he'd probably be an all-star already and I hope someday he is."

If it were to happen, Green would love for it to be as a New Jersey Net.

He certainly delivered a solid performance in Boston's 94-82 win over New Jersey, as he led the Nets with 15 points off the bench.

"The Nets gave me the opportunity of a lifetime," Green said. "I really can't thank the Nets enough for how much they've done for me, as far as giving me an opportunity and signing me for the rest of the year; giving me my first shot in three years that I've been dying to have. If it wasn't for this organization, I probably wouldn't be here here doing this interview with you."

And this summer, Green's play has catapulted into the being one of the more sought-after free agents.

He wouldn't rule out a return to Boston, but it's clear that his preference - for now at least - is returning to New Jersey.

"This is my home," Green said. "They're the ones that got me out of the dumpster. So I'm not really trying to go anywhere. I'm not I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking about finishing out the season with the Nets and be back here next year."

Whether he's with Boston, New Jersey or another team, Rivers enjoys the fact that Green appears to have finally found his way.

"The great thing about Gerald is he was never a bad kid," Rivers said. "We had a bad team back then; we didn't have bad kids. We just had a lot of kids. It's good from a coaching standpoint when you see any of them do well, but Gerald in particular because he was a good kid. He just needed to open himself up and let people in. I think he's done that."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics play the Raptors in Toronto. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Raptors preview: Ibaka is 'capable of changing the game'

Celtics-Raptors preview: Ibaka is 'capable of changing the game'

TORONTO – The decision to stand pat at the trade deadline for the Boston Celtics was made in part because they felt that as their roster is constructed, they can hold their own with anybody.

We’re going to find out just how true that is tonight as they face a revamped Toronto Raptors team that added a couple of notable players via trade, chief among them being Serge Ibaka from Orlando.

“That was a really good trade for them,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “Bringing in a guy like Serge Ibaka; a defender, a four-man that can switch out on guards. A guy that can space the floor, shoot the 3.  So that was a good addition. I’m excited to see how that’s gonna work other than tomorrow.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was also impressed with the Ibaka trade.

“That’s an improvement; there’s no question about it,” Stevens said. “Now you can play a number of different ways. He’s a really good player; he’s very agile. He’s a very good shooter. You can play him or (Patrick) Patterson at the four (power forward) the entire game now. You can play them together as a small-ball four and five (center). It gives them a lot of options on offense and defense.”

While praise for Ibaka is nothing new, you have to remember there were reasons as to why the Magic decided to give up on him so quickly, something even more hard to understand considering the assets they gave up (Victor Olidipo and a 2016 first-round pick used to select Domantas Sabonis, among others) to acquire him.

The Magic decided that they would not be in the running to re-sign Ibaka when he hits the free agent market this summer; this coming after the Thunder traded him primarily because they did not plan on giving him the near-max contract he’ll be seeking. So rather than play out this season and lose him for nothing, the Magic decided to trade him while they still could get something (Terrence Ross) in return.

While in Orlando, Ibaka averaged a career-high 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game. For his career (all prior to this season spent in Oklahoma City), he’s averaging 11.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

But he never seemed to provide the kind of impactful, difference-making play that Orlando was seeking.

And while the Celtics speak highly of Ibaka, he hasn’t been much of a problem for the Celtics this season.

In two games against Boston, Ibaka has averaged 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds.

Jae Crowder believes the struggles Ibaka has endured against the Celtics, are not a clear reflection of what he’s capable of doing as a player.

“For sure it makes them better,” said Crowder in describing the Raptors with Ibaka. “He’s a guy that can stretch the floor and rebound at a high rate. We know what he brings to the table.”

And those struggles we saw of him with the Magic?

“I think it was him more so than us,” Crowder said. “I give him credit because he wasn’t playing with the energy and passion he usually brings. I’ve been able to line up against him a quite a few times.  He didn’t have that passion like he did when he was in O-K-C (Oklahoma City). Maybe he’ll have it now. I know exactly what he’s capable of doing; he’s capable of changing the game with his play.”