Placing a dollar value on Jeff Green

Note: Long post warning.

I’ve been thinking about this subject for some time and I just can’t do it in a brief manner, so there will be a lot of words–sorry for that.  I thought maybe Royce or J.G. or one of the other guys might tackle this before now but it is still quietly in the background. So here goes:

October 31st is just around the corner and by the end of that day a significant decision will have been made by Sam Presti and the Thunder.  The decision will be whether, and at what value to extend Jeff Green’s rookie contract.  I’m oversimplifying a bit because it takes both parties to agree to a contract-one to offer and one to accept, but regardless, if Jeff Green doesn’t re-sign before midnight on Halloween he will enter the season as a player with an expiring contract and restricted free agent at the end.

As you likely know Kevin Durant and Green were both taken in the 2007 draft, Kevin at #2 and Green at #5 by the Celtics. Presti pulled off a draft day deal which brought Green to Seattle (along with some other pieces) for Ray Allen. That was three seasons ago and per the current and soon to expire Collective Bargaining Agreement players who have completed three seasons are eligible for contract extensions. Kevin was offered and signed a maximum contract for 5yrs/$86 million or so.  Green on the other hand has not signed an extension as far as anyone knows. His representatives may very well be in negotiations (and likely have at least had some discussions), but nothing is in ink as of yet.

There are a lot of issues here.One is that Jeff Green is the starting Power Forward on a team that won 50 games and made a strong showing in the playoffs. Love him or hate him the dude started 82 games last year and that contribution cannot be denied.

Another is that the CBA is set to expire at the end of this season. It is nearly a given that there will be some changes ahead of the next agreement that owners and team management will see as favorable; meaning that players will likely be making less money than they do now unless grandfathered in. Hence, it was probably a smart move to lock up Durant and keep the scoring champ happy when the cloudy days of the new CBA come. Green however is not quite the NBA pillar that Durant is. Many of us have wondered aloud here on DT whether management would want to risk pissing off Green by not locking him up with a new deal and thereby grandfathering him in. The Thunder are universally recognized as a team with wonderful chemistry from top to bottom and a roster full of guys who get along and pal around and love each other’s company. So isn’t it a risk? Do the Thunder brains want to allow the seeds of discord to creep in and multiply?

Whether or not Green has been offered a contract extension is speculation, but if he has, the value of this hypothetical contract is a very big deal for the Thunder. Next year we will likely be talking about Russ Westbrook’s eligibility for a contract extension (as well as D.J.White’s). I think that will be a really big negotiation. Then on the heels of that you’ve got James Harden and Serge Ibaka. Those guys will get paid one way or the other. And lest we forget guys like Nick Collison and Nenad Krstic who will have to be decided on. Presti has to find a way to pay the roster that he spent these last three years crafting with a variety of deals. So what you pay Jeff Green will have ramifications for years to come. If you overpay Green maybe someday throws a butt load of money at Serge Ibaka as a restricted free agent and the team’s whole salary structure goes to hell in a hand basket trying to keep your assets…

I say all of the above to get to the point of what is fair value for Jeff Green?

If you’ve ever bought or sold a home you will likely be familiar with the idea of “comps”, or comparable homes that have sold in your neighborhood recently. Your agent will pull up a list and show you the plusses and minuses of similar homes as they relate to yours. House A may have more closet space and an extra bathroom so it aught to be worth an extra ten grand, or house B has a pool and a sauna etc. You get the idea. I spent some time coming up with what I think are fairly decent Jeff Green comps that we can use as a tool to help arrive at a fair contractual offer for our Power Forward. I chose three other guys who are young, have started plenty of games, have played plenty of minutes at both Forward spots and are considered “versatile”.  The guys are Hakim Warrick, Ryan Gomes, and Thaddeus Young. Young was a lottery pick by the 76ers and came in the same draft as Green and Durant, played on their side in the rook/soph game and is in the same contractual boat as Green is. Warrick was a mid first rounder who was recently signed and traded to the Suns in Amare Stoudamire’s absence. He may very well be their starting PF this season. Gomes was a second round pick of the Celtics who went to Minnesota in the Al Jefferson deal. He was signed as a FA by Clippers and may be their starting SF this year alongside Blake Griffin.  Here are the numbers (courtesy of Basketball-Reference). Pay special attention to the per 36 minute numbers and the Advanced sections since that is what we will focus in on.

Gomes has played the most minutes in his career at over 10,000 and Green and Warrick are behind him at over 8,000 each.  Young is over 6000. If you figure that 32 mpg over a full season is around 3000 minutes, all of these guys have solid NBA experience while still being young.

  • All of these guys are decent shooters by percentage, but none are lights out. Of the four Green has the lowest FG% but is in the middle of the pack in 3fg%. His eFG% and TS% are the lowest of the four.
  • Green’s PER is also the lowest of the four, and his Pp36 and reb/36 are the next to lowest.
  • His total rebound rate, turnover rate and offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) were also the lowest.
  • Don’t think I am piling on, just the facts here. On the positive side Green has the lowest defensive rating (that’s a good thing), the best block percentage, top half assist rate and he’s a reliable free throw shooter.

Remember the idea is to get an idea of Green’s value as regards his peers. Green seems to be on the low end offensively when compared to these guys but what about defense? Over at basketball Prospectus they have this neat little stat that they track called “defensive multiplier” or dmult for short. I will cut the explanation of it short but basically if your dmult is 1.0, then you defend your opponent at exactly their average output on a possession basis. So if your dmult is .95 then you held your opponent to just 95% of their usual scoring. A dmult of 1.3 means that you allow your opponent 130% of their normal output.

  • Green has a strong dmult at .987. Obviously part of this is the team defensive concept and culture in OKC, but nonetheless it is good on the season, if not so good in the playoffs against Pau Gasol.
  • Gomes has a less than stellar dmult of 1.139. This has a lot to do with the T-wolves being the 28th worst defensive squad last year, but still Gomes allowed his guy a 14% increase in production.
  • Thaddeus Young was also stinky at 1.300
  • Hakim Warrick with the Bucks great defensive squad held his opponent to .883 of their usual output.

Green isn’t the winner by this measure, but he has respectability.  I could go on and on with more stats, like the defensive PER over at 82games for Green, his adjusted and raw +/- over at BB Value etc. but this thing is getting really long; the hyperlinks are there if you want to see for yourself. Suffice it to say that Green is a nice basketball player, a nice complimentary player, a talented and versatile combo forward, and that he compares favorably to these other three guys. He’s better in some regards and inferior in others.

But the objective here was find actual dollar value here for Jeff Green. Again to the comps. Ryan Gomes signed a 3 year/$12 million dollar deal with the Clipps this last July. That is $4 million per for the potential starting SF.  Also, Hakim Warrick was signed and traded this off season to the Suns for 4 years and $17 million. That’s $4.25 million per. He may start for the Suns. Thadd Young is still waiting and Jeff Green is still waiting.

In light of all I’ve presented, and the fact that Jeff Green was the highest draft pick of the bunch, and on the “winningest” team of the bunch, I think that surprisingly Jeff Green’s value this summer is around $5 million per season. That would probably seem ghastly to Green’s agent were he to read it, but I’ve laid out my case. Nick Collison, our backup PF/C is going to make $6.75 mill this year in his last season, but he signed his deal years ago, and just like in a lot of things, timing is everything.

What do you think is fair for Jeff? If you were Jeff would you sign an offer like the one I’ve proposed or would you become a RFA after the season and use it as a bargaining chip with the Thunder?

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