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Buyout candidate, former Sixer, and three-time champion Danny Green signs with Cavaliers

There’s one potential buyout candidate Sixers fans had their eye on, as Danny Green lands with Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen in Cleveland.

Toronto Raptors v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

It’s Super Bowl Sunday so most Philadelphia fans will put on temporary pause their 76ers obsession. But let’s face it, there are some of you who are so passionate, so depraved, so slop-starved you’re killing time between now and the Eagles game checking NBA buyout market updates. You know who you are you fiends.

And one name Sixers fans were keeping an eye on was former Sixers wing Danny Green.

Team President Daryl Morey traded away a 2025 first-round pick along with Al Horford’s exorbitant salary to rectify some sins of the franchise’s Collaborative past. That necessary-evil deal brought in Green who was a terrific fit alongside Joel Embiid, providing much-needed wing defense and floor spacing. That fall of 2020, Morey also flipped Josh Richardson and Tyler Bey (the latter selected using a second-round pick - the very last stocking stuffer left by Sam Hinkie) for Seth Curry.

Green and Curry provided tons of spacing on offense, allowing a 26 year-old Embiid (following his first healthy summer) to thrive and helped the Sixers lock up the East’s top seed that 2020-2021 season.

Green would suffer a calf strain in the first contest vs. the Atlanta Hawks in Round 2.

Despite all of the things fans discuss that cost them that series, things like Ben Simmons’ struggles, or Doc Rivers’ all-bench lineups, the loss of Green may have hurt them just as much. Having him out there (instead of Furkan Korkmaz or Shake Milton) might have mitigated their other flaws just enough to help them advance one more round.

Then the next year, in the playoffs against Miami, Embiid tumbled after a made basket and fell into Green’s leg. The 46th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft would suffer a devastating ACL and LCL tear.

By the 2022 NBA Draft the Sixers traded a recently injured Green to the Memphis Grizzlies along with pick no. 23 (David Roddy was selected) for De’Anthony Melton. Green made impressive time in his rehabilitation process. He returned to the floor for the Grizzlies on Feb. 1st, 2023. He appeared in three games and shot 3-of-8 from distance before being packaged in a three-team trade last week.

Green, now 35, was sent to the Houston Rockets, while Eric Gordon landed with the Los Angeles Clippers, and L.A.’s Luke Kennard landed with the Grizzlies.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Green was reaching agreement on a buyout from the rebuilding Rockets.

As much as they might have valued his veteran leadership, they probably would prefer to give playing time to their young core; and they knew Green would prefer to pursue his fourth championship anyway.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics have emerged as frontrunners to sign him as a free agent, sources tell ESPN. Lakers and Suns are involved too.”

It was interesting not to see Philadelphia named in that list of four primary suitors for Green Ranger’s services. It doesn’t make a ton of sense that the Sixers wouldn’t be interested in a reunion.

Between the trade that sent Philadelphia’s best perimeter defender in Matisse Thybulle packing for Portland, and the thus far disappointing play of summer free agent acquisition Danuel House Jr., a reunion made sense from the 76ers perspective.

But maybe they were up front with Green that playing time here was not a given, and he would have to compete with the likes of Melton, Jalen McDaniels, Shake Milton, and House for burn. It’s certainly not clear how much Green has left in the tank.

Even if his three pointer is dropping (and he’s a career 40 percent from distance) the Sixers have made clear their emphasis is on players who can play both ends of the floor. If Green’s lateral agility is currently limited by the recency of his surgical procedure, it wouldn’t be a shock.

On the other hand, Green might have made clear he had no interest returning to Philadelphia for one reason or another. Sixers fans didn’t hide their disappointment in his streak shooting, giving him a few occasional boos after his patented barely-conscious heat-check-style bombs in transition that bricked.

In this writer’s humble opinion, there were also a few sequences during the playoffs against Miami in 2022 when Green and Embiid appeared visibly frustrated with each other. Green had trouble delivering entry passes when Bam Adebayo would front Joel on one end. Then Embiid would fail to kick it out to an occasionally wide open Green spotting up on the other end, settling instead for a tough long-two over a double-team, leading to visible frustration.

And of course, Embiid was the one who fell on Green’s leg. But I suppose there could be a million reasons why one side or the other didn’t feel this was a perfect match.

Green said Joel calls to check in on him from time to time back in late December:

“He (Embiid) checks in every once in a while. We haven’t spoken as of recent, but he’ll tap in. He’ll randomly FaceTime or text and say, ‘Hey, what’s up? How’s things going? ‘He had a recent injury. I probably should check on him.”

Green wound up settling on Cleveland. Stacked in the backcourt with Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell, and stacked in the front court with bigs Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, there’s still a big need at the wing for a very young Cavaliers team who could use some veteran leadership and someone who can knock down clutch shots in huge playoff moments.

This may disappoint Sixers fans, but it seems like a good fit for Green and the upstart Cavaliers, who appear to be in the driver’s seat to steal third place from the Sixers over the remaining games.

The Sixers waived Isaiah Joe likely in part because they wanted to reset the repeater tax fees, and target buyout veterans. Maybe they felt they could do better than Green. Either way, the former Sixer is now off the board. So they’ll keep looking for veteran upgrades to help them win the franchise’s first title since 1983.

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