In June of 2009, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Danny Green with the 46th overall pick out of North Carolina. He’d play in 20 games for the Cavs as a rookie, and average 6 minutes and 2 points per night for the season. In October of 2010, he’d be cut by the team who drafted him. About thirty days later, he’d be cut again for the second time in his pro career. Despite that, earlier this month, Danny Green would go on to ink a 3-year, $12 million fully guaranteed deal with the San Antonio Spurs.
This week I caught with Danny Green out in Vegas. He wasn’t playing in the NBA Summer League this time around because he proved his NBA worth this past season with the Spurs. He started 38 games during the regular season, shot 44-percent from three point range, and averaged just over 9 points per game. We talked first about where he came from to get where he is now, after being cut by the Cavaliers two season ago.
“There was definitely a point in time where things were kinda shaky”, Green told StepienRules.com. “I was inconsistent, and I was losing confidence. That’s the biggest thing, lack of confidence was what got to me. Confidence can change a person’s whole character.”
That confidence was the first thing Green needed to change, he went on to say, before he had any chance of making a real go of things in the League.
“That confidence is the biggest thing that’s turned around everything for me since”, Green said. “I see a lot of these guys who weren’t playing well last year but are playing better this year, and that’s because of confidence. Back when I was cut by the Cavs, I didn’t know whether I was going to get back into the NBA or not. I thought maybe I was going to get stuck overseas, I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
What ended up happening first for Green, was that he signed with the Spurs one month after being cut by the Cavs in Novemeber of 2010. Two weeks after that, however, he’d be cut for the second time in his short NBA career.
“I just told myself that this is my dream”, Green told me. “I was going to give it one hundred percent, go full force, and I was going to see what happens. I was going to just stay here and try to stay in the League. I got into the D-League, and luckily got brought up at the end of the year last year, and then I had to start all over again this year.”
At the end of the 2010-11 regular season, Green would come back up with the Spurs to play in 8 games. He played 11 minutes per game this time around, shot 49-percent, and averaged 5.1 points per night. It was a solid start, but hardly where he wanted to be. He’d play 4 more postseason games for the Spurs that year, averaging less than 2 minutes per night.
Then Manu Ginobili got hurt at the start of this season, and Greg Popovich gave Green that opportunity he’d take full advantage of.
“Somebody gets hurt, it’s a short season, lot of games in a lot of days, and I got a chance to play a little bit and I earned myself some minutes. Things turned out great for me. It’s a dream come true for me”, Green added. “It’s been a total 180 for me throughout the year. Coming from being cut by the Cleveland Cavaliers, being in the D-League, overseas, and then starting in the Western Conference Finals it was kinda crazy.”
Starting alongside three Hall of Famers, about two years after being cut twice in less than two full seasons would be kinda crazy. Totally agree.
“Playing with Tony, Timmy and Manu, guys that I’ve watched play growing up in middle school and high school, it was a dream come true. I couldn’t ask for a better situation, and better organization. I just talked to Pop, saw everybody in the gym, and they’re just a great group of guys. I love those guys. So I’m excited, it’s been a lot of fun, we had a great run, and hopefully we can come back next year and get over that hump.”
As far as if any of those guys said or did anything to specifically help him solidfy his spot in the League, Green says it was a team effort.
“All of them helped me man, they’ve all done a great job of helping me through this process. Coming from shooting, being consistent mentally, approaching the game. Pop’s done a great job of encouraging me, night-in and night-out, and talking to him just now I already can see I’m going to keep having a lot of fun playing for him.”
The only thiing they’re telling him now is to just keep doing what he’s doing. And to save that money he’s about earn as much as he can too.
“Recently, the biggest thing that everybody has been telling me is save”, Danny said with a laugh. “Save your money. But other than that, throughout this process everybody has played a key role in my success and my progression in that organization.”
When I asked if he’s had a chance to catch his breath yet after that shortened season where he played his way back into the League for good, he told me has. For a little bit at least.
“A little bit man, definitely. I’ve been able to relax a little bit, I took a month off, but I’m getting back into it now. I’m working out, getting everything going, getting back in shape, trying to stay in shape, get that rhthym going, and hopefully I haven’t lost it and can come back next year even better.”
Whether Danny Green could’ve ever been the player he is now for the Cleveland Cavaliers, we’ll never know. He is that guy for the San Antonio Spurs right now though, and he proved a lot of people wrong in the process.