BOSTON - In some ways, it seems to Gerald Green like his days playing for the Boston Celtics as an 18-year-old fresh out of high school were only yesterday.
In others, it was like a lifetime ago. When Green - a projected top-three pick - fell to the Celtics at No. 18 in the 2005 NBA draft, the team took a chance on the ridiculous upside of the draft's most intriguing athletic talent.
The problem with risk is that a lot of times it doesn't work out. After two years with the Celtics - when he often seemed more concerned with winning dunk contests than learning the game -Green was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the deal for Kevin Garnett.
Two years later, he was out of the league.
"When I came into the league I didn't know what to expect," he said. "I'm thinking this is still AAU ball.
But this is actually a business.
Once I got that aspect of it, I was already overseas." Green played in Russia. He played in China. He played in the D-League. He signed 10-day contracts in the NBA.
Eventually, he stuck.
Now two months shy of his 29th birthday, he's finally found a home in Phoenix where he entered Monday night's game averaging 14.6 points per game off the bench.
"This is a great spot - perfect," Green said. "This is almost the best spot I could be because of how we do play.
How the He came into the league playing for a coach in Doc Rivers who didn't let him do anything he wanted.
"I didn't understand Doc," Green said. "I was too young to understand him." Green said he stays in contact with Rivers, and that he believes his first NBA coach is proud of the player he's become.
His current coach understands the player he is, and looks to optimize it.
"He's kind of our instant offense guy," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. "When we put him in there we run stuff for him, and try to see if we can get him going. Because once he gets going, it's lights out sometimes." Green said if he had to do it all over again, he would still jump straight to the NBA. He said he "hates" the rule that forces players to spend a year in college.
But he now understands all he was not as a teenager in Boston a decade ago because of all he's seen all over the world in the years since.
"Was I not sure if I was going to get back?" he said.
"Hell, yeah, lots of times. But I never stopped fighting." NOTES: Stevens said Marcus Smart (ankle) will not be available in any of the two road games this week, but left the door open for him to return by the end of next week. Rookies James Young and Dwight Powell returned to the team after being sent to Portland for Sunday's D-League game.
Both scored 21 points with Powell also pulling down 17 rebounds.