Green Jeff

SAN FRANCISCO — As the Rockets arrived at Chase Center for their first practice after the All-Star break, there was a bit of business to take care of before anyone could be stretching or sweating.

General manager Daryl Morey climbed down off the bus with a fresh 10-day contract in his hands and signed new backup center Jeff Green right there on the loading dock, sending in the paperwork to the NBA to allow Green to join the Rockets in time to prepare for Thursday’s game against the Golden State Warriors and the 28-game stretch run of the season.

With that, the Rockets had made another statement of how deeply committed they are to their revised style, filling the court with range-shooting and switching big men and nothing that will resemble a center in the post.

As Rockets reserve Thabo Sefolosha, a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder reunion contingent, said, “He checks every box of what we’re doing.”

“That’s basically been my role, I guess you could say, my whole career, to be a versatile guy that can play multiple positions,” Green said. “I think it’s not really just a 3-point shooting five. It’s a player that can do a lot of things on the floor. Just trying to add my attributes to what they already have.

“(Switching defensively) is something I’ve been doing my whole career. It’s how we start off the conversation. It’s something that falls right into the strength of what I do.”

Green, 33, also fits in the Rockets’ recent history of late-season veteran additions, moves that have brought in Michael Beasley and Joe Johnson and generated mixed results. On Thursday, they are expected to sign veteran forward DeMarre Carroll when he clears waivers, according to two individuals with knowledge of the team’s plans.

Even if Green replaces Sefolosha as the backup center, that would still give the Rockets 10 players in the rotation, assuming coach Mike D’Antoni looks at Carroll down the stretch, too. That would seem to be more than he would play in the postseason, making the final eight weeks of the season valuable to experiment.

“We’re trying to get better. At the same time, we have to win games,” D’Antoni said. “We want to get a good seed if possible. The most important thing is to get the team right and playing well as we go into the playoffs. The second thing is to get a good seed. Our objective is to do both.”

With that in mind, Green opted for a 10-day contract, giving him four games to get a better feel for how things might play out. But he said he was unconcerned with that, even if after sitting out since Christmas Eve in his 12th NBA season, stability would seem to be especially important.

“Just trying to play the cards right,” Green said. “I believe it will work out well. Not too concerned with how many days the contract is. I’m playing for the Rockets. I’m playing for the team, hopefully to do some things.”

The Rockets believe what he does fits well with what they value.

At 6-8, Green has made 33.3 percent of his 3-pointers, averaging 13 points and 4.4 rebounds in his career. He shot well with the Jazz this season when he received extending playing time, making 46.6 percent of his 3-pointers in 15 of the 30 games in which he played at least 18 minutes.

“He can play five positions (defensively), which we want,” D’Antoni said. “Then, we’ll see where it goes from there. He gives us a little more length, a little more athleticism. He can open the floor for Russell (Westbrook). Russell’s really playing well and we want to keep him playing well. The second part is we have a unique team. Our littles can guard bigs. So, why not spread it out and maximize Russell’s athletic ability and James (Harden’s) ability to get to the rim?”

Even more than keep the floor spaced, the ability to switch from centers to point guards has become a requirement.

“Every player we sign now, we’re going to want them to be as versatile as possible on the defensive end and on offense, if we can get both,” Morey said. “Primarily defensive versatility is the main thing we’re going to look for. Obviously, we’re on a championship push. Jeff is a very versatile player. Can play big, can guard on the perimeter, athletic, somebody that can hit 3s. We love his versatility and feel he can fit right in with what we’re trying to do.”

Fitting right in went a long way toward explaining Green’s loading dock signature on the dotted line. They had seemed right for each other nearly two months earlier.

But with the change in style since to play shooting, switching centers at all times, the word “fit” comes up often and could be the key to whether the latest in-season free agency additions work.

“The direction they were going in, first and foremost,” Green said, explaining his choice of the Rockets. “The players they have, the personnel, and the coach — it’s a good fit.”



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