The Philadelphia Inquirer
PHILADELPHIA — Danny Green isn’t a point guard, so he doesn’t really change much for the Sixers as they continue to prepare themselves for a future without James Harden. He’s also 36 years old, and a year removed from major knee surgery, and coming off a season in which he played in just 15 games.
In other words, don’t bother waking up the Dream Team for reaction to the Sixers’ decision to sign the veteran wing to a one-year contract late on Tuesday. At this point, Green is little more than a sensible low-cost addition for a team that was set to enter training camp with Furkan Korkmaz and Danuel House Jr. as its primary backups behind Tobias Harris at the three spot. There’s some reason to hope that he can get back to the guy he was before tearing his ACL and LCL in the Sixers’ Game 6 loss to the Heat in the 2022 Eastern Conference semifinals. But there’s just as much reason to think that his biggest contributions will come in between the whistles.
Green recovered from knee surgery well enough to earn some postseason spot duty for the Cavaliers, including nearly 20 minutes of court time in Game 2 of their first-round loss to the Knicks. He ended up with a minus-13 in roughly 40 minutes of playoff action, for whatever that’s worth. After spending much of the regular season rehabbing, he played 24-plus minutes in the last two games of the regular season, shooting a combined 8 of 19 from 3-point range. Beyond that, you pretty much have to wait for the preseason and see what kind of physical condition he is in.
Green has been in the league forever, but he’s still two years younger than P.J. Tucker and a year younger than the likes of Jeff Green, Al Horford and Kyle Lowry, all of whom contributed to teams that made postseason runs last season. So, yeah. We’ll wait and see.
The big question remains how Nick Nurse plans on who’s handling the ball this season. The only pure point guard on the roster is a guy who does not sound all that enthusiastic about playing for the Sixers this year or any year henceforth. Barring a dramatic and unexpected reversal from Harden, Nurse would be left with some combination of Tyrese Maxey, De’Anthony Melton and Patrick Beverley. The latter of those three is more of a defensive specialist who can handle the ball versus a true playmaker/facilitator. Beverley played 26.1 minutes per game over the last five seasons while shooting 37% from 3-point range, but with more rebounds (4.3 per game) than assists (3.5). He’s a better option than Melton, but their profiles are more similar to each other than they are to Harden.
Maxey is the big unknown, and Sixers fans may not have a choice but to talk themselves into believing that he is a tantalizing one. Over his first three years in the league, the budding star has looked like a guard with too much tunnel vision and too little change-of-pace rhythm to project at the point. That said, he has also looked like a player who is receptive to coaching and will do anything he can to improve. You don’t necessarily need a Bob Cousy in today’s NBA. There is plenty of potential in an offense that starts with the ball in Maxey’s hands and affords him a level of autonomy and creativity that Doc Rivers never offered to or asked of him. If there’s a silver lining to Harden’s absence, it could be the opportunity for Maxey to put on his big boy pants.
As for Green? We can say one thing for sure. He’ll be there.