Green to sign multi-year deal with Denver
By Jeff Nations
Erick Green got the call he’s been waiting for nearly his entire life late on Tuesday night.
On the other end of the line was Denver Nuggets general manager/executive vice president Tim Connelly, and he had news for Green — the Nuggets want the Winchester native on the roster next season and beyond, and the call was a multi-year contract offer to make that happen.
“This is huge, man,” Green said during a telephone interview on Wednesday night. “I don’t think it’s really hit me yet, but it will hit me soon.”
Green expects an official announcement from the team as early as today, after final details on the contract have been ironed out. That’s small stuff at this point for the former Millbrook High School and Virginia Tech University standout guard.
Originally selected in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz and promptly dealt to the Nuggets in a draft night trade, Green followed Denver’s wishes by signing to play professionally overseas for a year to further develop. Green, a high-scoring combo guard at Virginia Tech and the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Player of the Year after leading the nation in scoring with 25.4 points per game as a senior.
The Nuggets didn’t have room for Green a year ago, and urged him to sign with Montepaschi Siena in Italy’s top professional league. It was Green’s first time living alone or overseas, and he said the experience helped him to grow in more ways than one.
“I think it helped a lot, to be honest,” Green said. “I had to learn to be on my own, and I think it really helped me to mature as a person.”
It didn’t hurt his game, either, as Green worked to hone his playmaking abilities to fit into the role the Nuggets had envisioned for him — point guard. The 6-foot-3 Green made strides in that role during his time in Siena, averaging 10.8 points and 1.1 assists in 61 games.
The experience gave Green added confidence when he took his second crack at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, which wrapped up earlier this week for the Nuggets. Green started all five games he played in for Denver, finishing second on the team in scoring (16.6 points per game), rebounding (3.0 per game) hitting his free throws (81 percent) and putting up healthy numbers for assists (2.6 per game) and steals (1.2).
“I think I was more aggressive and more prepared,” Green said. “I wanted to show that I could be a point guard in the league and be a high-character guy in the league.”
Green thinks he may have been a bit tentative in his first Summer League experience last year, and he was determined to show his full potential and merits without worrying so much about meeting others’ expectations this year.
“I played more my style, and I think I showed what I’m capable of doing in this league,” Green said.
Homework has already started for Green, who admits to having some work to do to get coach Brian Shaw’s system down pat. He’s not completely in the dark, of course, thanks to having put time during the summer league. He’ll enter training camp in the fall ticketed as the Nuggets’ third point guard.
“I watched them a few times last year, but it was kind of hard with the time difference,” Green said. “I’ve learned the offense, it’s a lot of half-court sets, a lot like what we did in Italy. The point guards get out and run.”
Contact staff writer Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org