NBA veteran Danny Green has three championships to his name, and when he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers this season, he was surely hoping to add a fourth.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way, as the Cavs took a quick exit in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs. Green’s playing time was limited during Cleveland’s series against the New York Knicks, as he averaged 10 minutes per contest and didn’t even see any action in Game 1.
The 35-year-old, who tore his ACL and LCL last year, seemingly wasn’t trusted with many minutes due to his defense. He recently spoke about how he views his defense at this stage of his career.
“That stigma about me is weird,” he said of the idea that he can’t play effective defensive anymore. “And it’s something that said in my pride that gets to me ’cause I said when it comes a point where people like, ‘I’m attacking him,’ that’s where I’m like, ‘Alright, maybe it’s time for me to hang it up.’ And I don’t think I’m at that point, anywhere near. I think that I’m still very capable of moving, sliding my feet and playing defense. … I don’t think they (the Cavs) trust me with the knees in guarding guards, but I still think I’m very capable of sliding my feet.”
Green admitted that he’s no longer the defender he used to be, but he emphasized that he’s still serviceable on that end of the floor.
“With the guys that we have on our group, it’s not like you have to play a bunch of defense of doing it all,” he added. “I had to do was take away 3-point line and the pull-up line and send them to Evan [Mobley] and Jarrett Allen down there. So, I think with the group, when you have bigs like that, it’s easy for you to play defense, and I think what hurt us a lot was Jalen Brunson being able to put us to sleep and get his midrange game, put us to sleep, shoot 3s and us not trusting the guys behind us. … But yes, when it comes to getting over screens and guarding guards, I’m still very capable.”
The New York native explained that it hurt his pride a little bit when the Cavs showed their lack of confidence in his defense.
“The world to see that — and coaching staff too, not to have that faith in me or trust in me yet — it’s kinda disappointing a little bit,” he said. “It does hurt the pride some, but I said back to the drawing board for me this summer. So, I’ma continue to rehab. I have something to prove.”
The NBA journeyman actually earned All-Defensive honors in the 2016-17 season, but he was much younger at that time and wasn’t recovering from a significant knee injury.
These days, he’s looking to find his rhythm again and prove that he can be a productive player on both ends of the floor. To his credit, he showed in the 2022-23 regular season that he’s still entirely capable of shooting the lights out.
Although the sample size was small, Green knocked down 43.2 percent of his shots from beyond the arc across 11 regular season games. There’s always going to be a market for Green if he continues to shoot like that, especially if he can show the NBA that he’s still capable of keeping up on defense.
The former second-round pick is a free agent this offseason, so it’s unclear what the future holds for him. However, based on his recent comments, it’s obvious that he intends to continue his playing career.
Cleveland, meanwhile, is entering a big offseason as the team tries to address what went wrong in the playoffs. The future still looks bright for the organization, but some roster tweaks are likely necessary for the Cavs to take the next step.