Daryl Morey only attaching one first-round pick in his trade to move Al Horford’s contract was a big win for the Philadelphia 76ers. The fact that they received a quality wing in return in Danny Green made the deal a whole lot better.
After a long wait for his trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder to be made official, Green has finally joined the Sixers for training camp. He spoke to reporters for the first time as a Sixer after the team’s practice this Wednesday, and explained that he’s spent the last couple of weeks looking for places to work out, which hasn’t been as easy while the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Especially as his offseason was as short as anyone’s — he was still busy helping the Los Angeles Lakers finish off their last Finals game on October 11.
Green only picked up a basketball again a couple of weeks ago. He’s been finding places to work out and getting in all the preparation he can before joining the Sixers — working on his conditioning, shooting, talking to the coaching staff, and watching film.
Doc Rivers was impressed by Green right away. “I was shocked, because I’m guessing he probably hasn’t touched a ball since the championship game,” Rivers said after Wednesday’s session. “He was unbelievable today. He shot the heck out of the ball, he made reads. He did find out that Ben [Simmons is] a superstar athlete on one of the layups, I will say that,” Rivers added with a smile.
Green had a good first impression of his new team, too. “I like the energy,” he said after practice. “Guys are excited to be here, guys are excited to learn from each other, play with each other and compete against each other.”
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from Green is how much he wants to serve as a mentor. He made it clear that before he starts trying to do any teaching he wants to grow a rapport with guys first, learn their habits and mannerisms on the court, and get acclimated with the team. But he’s keen to take on a leadership role. And not just by sharing his experiences and what it takes mentally to get through the playoffs and be successful, but specifics of how they can improve on the court. Green thinks he’ll be able to help everyone in one way or another.
“My job, I think, is more important off the floor than it is on the floor for this group,” Green said. “Just helping them understand the small details of what it takes to win, to be winners. Teaching them small things like guarding pick-and-rolls; guarding screens, pin-downs; coming off and how to use those screens; how to talk to each other; being patient; and how to communicate defensively. So I think that can help everybody — not just certain stars, certain people, but everyone across the board, both guards and bigs.”
Green was also asked about his experience having played off talented bigs who can operate in the post — from Tim Duncan, to Marc Gasol, to Anthony Davis — and believes that he can bring what he’s learned to Philly to complement Joel Embiid and, again, teach others some of the same tricks.
“Playing with those guys, I’ve been able to know the spacing easy,” Green explained. “I was kind of implementing that with these younger guys here [at practice] and them understanding how to move, how to cut, when to move, when to cut, and how to just stay spaced and be patient, and let those guys [bigs] operate, and just be ready to shoot when and if [defenders] double and they find you.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do that and also be able to tell Jo and ask him, you know, what he’s comfortable with, what he feels in that area, what does he want me to do. I’ll just also tell him, ‘I’m gonna be here for you, I’ll be there. I’m usually either gonna move this way or move that way, so it’ll be an easier pass for you.’ But it’s just a communication factor, feeling each other out and what’s comfortable for both of us to be successful.”
Green was excited when he found out that he was being traded again from Oklahoma City to Philly, feeling appreciative that he’d found another place where he can be successful both individually and as part of a contending team. On top of that, he was also pleased that the Sixers wanted him to be one guys to lead the team.
“My job is to come in here and help some of these young guys, and even some of the experienced guys — me and Dwight (Howard) — to teach them and give them the winning atmosphere, the winning culture, and building that,” Green added. “It’s not going to happen overnight, it takes day by day. That’s a process, that’s a project that hopefully by All-Star break, by the end of the season, guys are mentally prepared for what’s to come.”
As Embiid has said as well, the Sixers can learn from Green, a veteran who’s played in 145 playoff games through his career and won three championships. “He’s been through that grind of getting to the NBA Finals and fighting for that championship,” Embiid said after Thursday’s practice. “There’s a lot we can learn from him.”
Now that Green has won back-to-back titles with the Raptors and Lakers, he even joked that the Sixers are under pressure to keep his streak going.
“I’m glad that they wanted me. I hope I live up to expectations, but also the pressure is on them,” he said on Wednesday. “I won back to back. It’s their job to get me there to win another one. If they don’t, they f***ed it up.”
Green’s skillset is an ideal fit with the Sixers. He’s a 40 percent three-point shooter with the kind of confident, reliable stroke and relocation ability that they needed to add on the wing, along with a high IQ and good perimeter defense. As he looks to help mentor his younger teammates both on and off the floor as well, he’ll be doing even more to contribute in Philly.