- Peter May, Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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He's the only player that remains from the Kendrick Perkins trade. His name is still on the roster, but only because the Celtics extended him a qualifying offer to keep his rights.
But Jeff Green hasn't signed anything yet, so while he may be a name on the roster, the asterisk next to that name indicates he's not really on the team. Technically, he's a restricted free agent, which means he and his agent, David Falk, have four options:
1. Accept the Celtics' qualifying offer, play out the season and become an unrestricted free agent next summer
2. Produce an offer sheet from another team, which the Celtics would then have three days to match
3. Sign an extension and stay with the Celtics
4. Sign an extension as part of a sign-and-trade
A week from today, at the latest, we are likely to know which one of those four avenues Green takes.
"I expect Jeff Green to be in a training camp on December 9,'' Falk said Friday.
But will that training camp be in Waltham, Mass., or somewhere else?
Danny Ainge said he would like Green back, but not at too ridiculous a cost. Falk already turned down a lucrative offer for Green last year from Oklahoma City. The two sides have had what Falk called "friendly" discussions.
"The reality of the situation is that over the next two years, the Big Three are going to retire,'' Falk said Friday. "To maintain a competitive, playoff team, if they keep Jeff Green and [Rajon] Rondo, they have two strong pieces on which to build. If they only have one, they're going to have to blow it up and start all over again.
"They already have Rondo. Jeff represents a very important part of the future of this team. He's like the swing vote in a Supreme Court decision," Falk said.
Let's explore the four options.
1. Green accepts the qualifying offer
If this occurs, Green will play for the Celtics in 2011-12 and earn approximately $5.9 million. Under current league rules, he could not be traded without his consent. The Celtics would find themselves in a position similar to the one they had last year with Perkins in that they didn't want to take a chance on losing him in free agency and getting nothing back in return. In the case with Green, however, they couldn't trade him unless he agreed to the deal. Next summer promises to be a hectic one for free agents with players like Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams expected to be available. Green might be there as well.
2. Green signs an offer sheet with another team
This scenario is probably the least likely of the four in that teams are reluctant to make a run at a restricted free agent because they figure the other club will simply match it. The only way to avoid that is to make an over-the-top offer that the team figures the Celtics would not match.
3. Green signs an extension and stays with the Celtics
This is what both sides say they want. But is there a price that both sides are comfortable with? Falk acknowledged that Green didn't exactly dazzle in his stint in Boston. "He'd like to come back and make a greater contribution than he did last year,'' Falk said. "Boston was an adjustment for him. He was coming off the bench for the first time since probably elementary school. He didn't have enough time."
The money is going to be the big issue -- there's a shocker and something that didn't change because of the lockout. Here's what Falk said last March when asked why he didn't accept Oklahoma City's extension offer, which started in the $6 million-a-year range: "If you're drafted fifth overall, and you play well, and you're 24 and your team comes to you with an extension offer, if it's not a max deal or near a max deal, there's really no incentive to do it.''
If Falk is going to stick with that argument, he may have a hard time getting what he wants from the Celtics.
4. Green signs an extension with the Celtics as part of a sign-and-trade
This assumes that there is a team out there that will pay Green more than the Celtics want to pay him and also has a player (or players) the Celtics want in return to complete the deal. As to the first part of that equation, Falk said of Green, "I know teams like him. And I know who they are."
This could be the best solution for the Celtics if they become convinced over the next week that they aren't going to reach an agreement to re-sign Green. This way, depending on which player(s) they get in return, they might not end up having to pay three or four years down the road.
Ainge would like to maintain his flexibility next summer, when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen come off the books. But he also knows he's going to need to shell out some serious green to fill out the current roster with capable bodies who can make a legitimate run at a title. He's got unrestricted free agents to consider from his own team (Glen Davis, Delonte West) as well as the guy he acquired last February who is restricted.
Nenad Krstic, the other player in the Perkins-Green deal, is busy posting up Eurostars in Russia. But Green clearly was the key acquisition. Indy coach Frank Vogel said Green was almost unique with his combination of speed, athleticism and height. Green is exactly the type of player that Coach Doc Rivers said the Celtics needed if they expect to compete with Miami, Chicago and other athletic teams.
We would be remiss not to note that the Celtics also received the Clippers' first-round pick in 2012 as part of the Green-Perkins trade. By this time next week, we may know if that's all they're going to have remaining from the deal.
Longtime Celtics reporter Peter May is a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com.
4dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann