Gerald Green Accepts Pat Riley's Challenge
July 11, 2015
MIAMI -- With the Miami Heat at the how-much-do-you-want-to-be-here stage of NBA free agency, Gerald Green made his statement by signing on the dotted line. At the NBA minimum.
Friday, a day after reaching his agreement with Pat Riley, the athletic, 3-point-shooting guard said he had no regrets about salary sacrificed, only championship visions.
"Once I heard that Miami wanted to give me an opportunity to come and here and play, it wasn't even about the money. It was about here my getting to Miami," Green said after a lengthy meeting with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
"I wanted to be a part of something special. That was my whole goal, to be a part of something special, to be a part of a culture that's all about winning. I wasn't worried about the financial aspects of this contract. I was worried about, 'What I can do? What can I do to help this team win? How can I get better to help this team win?'
It certainly was not signing-by-seduction, with Green taking a pay cut from last season's $3.5 million to this $1.4 million deal, one that will cost the Heat even less than that against the salary cap and luxury tax. This was Riley and Spoelstra questioning Green about his questionable defense, making sure the effort would be there on a nightly basis, even if the minutes might not.
"They challenged me defensively," he said. "And I told them that I was going to accept their challenge. They really, really challenged me defensively.
"They really want me to challenge myself. And I'm accepting that challenge."
It was a challenge previously issued by Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, before the Suns moved on to other options in free agency.
"I'm not going to sit here and dwell over what people have to say," Green said of Hornacek's criticism. "I just try to use that, what people have to say, and try to fuel myself to use that as motivation so I can be better."
For Green, 29, the Heat become his eighth team in his nine NBA seasons.
"My goal is this to be the last team I play for, so we won't have this conversation no more," he said.
"Nobody likes to move. Obviously I would like to be in one spot. But I mean, with that said, if it takes me to go from team to team to team, hey, that's what I have to do."
He said if constantly packing is part of the process, so be it.
"I'm not going to complain," he said. "I'm not going to sit there and say life is bad. I'm blessed to be able to play for eight different teams. Some people can't say that."
Green sets up as the backup at shooting guard to Dwyane Wade. But what is needed most is his 3-point stroke, one that dropped from 40 percent two seasons ago to 35.4 percent this past season.
"I mean, I didn't play as much," he said of last season's decline. "I've always been comfortable with my shot."
For Green, it again means working off passes from Goran Dragic, his teammate with the Suns for a season and a half until Dragic's trade to the Heat on Feb. 19.
"I couldn't be more excited," Green said. "I'm so excited to be playing with him, it's not even funny. I played my best ball with him. Being able to have a chance to team up with him again, man, that's just exciting, I can't wait.
"He gets the ball coast-to-coast. He's almost a one-man fast break."
Green offered rapid-fire answers during his media conference call, energy that apparently next will be on display on the court.
"To me," he said, "I think I need to be a high-energy player. I need to bring a lot of energy.
"If it's to bring energy or bringing that offensive spark or even having that passion on the bench, I've got to have energy. That's what I think I can bring to the table."
Among the reasons the Heat have been searching for low-budget, short-term additions is a goal of a makeover during 2016 free agency.
Green said that's fine, that he's living in the moment.
"They brought me here because they like me," he said. "And if things do work out well, 'This is a place we maybe see you here for the future.' That stuff sounds very encouraging. But the biggest part is we want to win."