As brief a time as it was, Phoenix guard Gerald Green still qualifies as a former Timberwolf.
Even if he played just 29 fleeting games in a forgettable 2007-08 season.
That was right after the team traded away superstar Kevin Garnett to Boston for Al Jefferson, Green and three other players who are also former Wolves.
That was six long seasons for both the Wolves and for Green, who played for or signed with six other NBA teams and also played in Russia, China and the D League as well.
“Not long enough,” Green said. “I know it wasn’t the best years of my career, but everybody goes through things in life.”
Green has gone through more things than most players in the NBA if only because he was drafted directly out of high school in 2005, by Boston 18th overall even though some draft analysts had compared his sheer athleticism to star Tracy McGrady.
He played two seasons in Boston, then was traded to the Wolves in that blockbuster deal and arrived still a young player who didn’t know which way was up.
Timberwolves fans probably best remember him — or maybe only remember him — for defending his title in the All-Star slam-dunk contest that season by blowing out a lit cupcake placed on the back of the rim.
Days later, he was traded to Houston.
“It was a tough transition when I was there in Minnesota,” he said. “We had a lot of young guys who didn’t really know how to play yet at a high level.”
Green participated one more time in the contest — in 2013 — and now declares that part of his career over and done with. He says he never again will participate as a one-trick pony now that he is so much older and wiser from his travels, trials and tribulations.
Eight years in the league already, he’s all of just 28 years old and in a conversation last week seemingly a completely different person than he was six seasons ago.
“I feel old, man, as long as I’ve been in the league,” Green said. “God has blessed me with health and the ability to go around the world and play in different places and learn different languages, learn different cultures. I’m just blessed to still be here. Hopefully if God blesses me, I can be around a lot longer.”
Green has found a place in Phoenix this season as a starting shooting guard beside point guard Goran Dragic these past two months while starter Eric Bledsoe was sidelined following knee surgery. He has averaged nearly 15 points a game, scored a career-high 36 points in a game against Denver two weeks ago and delivered the game-winning shot that beat his former Wolves team in a January game.
“I feel like I’ve played for half the teams in the league,” he said with a smile.
After playing 60 games for Indiana last season and 31 for New Jersey the season before that, he is hopeful he has found a new home with the Suns and rookie coach Jeff Hornacek, to whom he credits his success.
“It speaks to just believing in yourself, never giving up on yourself and obviously sticking with an organization that finally believed in me,” Green said.
“I always wondered would I ever be back in the league. I didn’t know. I knew if ever had the opportunity, I wanted to be as ready as possible.
“I still have a long way to go. I haven’t done nothing in this league, nothing. Even right now, I haven’t done nothing in this league. I’m still trying to find ways to get better.”
NBA Short Takes
Who was that masked man?
Every other player, such as Wolves guard Alexey Shved, wears a clear plastic mask to protect his nose after he has broken it.
Not LeBron James.
James strapped on a black carbon-fiber mask — a look Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called “menacing” — against New York on Thursday and then went out and delivered his fifth consecutive 30-point game with a 31-point evening.
He broke his nose against Oklahoma on Feb. 20, missed one game and then came back with the black mask.
“He played like Batman,” Chris Bosh said.
James complied with the NBA’s request and wore a clearer, league-approved mask for Saturday’s game against Orlando
Unfamiliar, unhappy, territory
The once-mighty Los Angeles Lakers are last in the Western Conference and headed toward their worst season since the franchise left Minneapolis for California so long ago and frustrations are mounting.
Veteran Pau Gasol voiced his once again last week, suggesting there’s a lack of discipline guiding the team.
Coach Mike D’Antoni suggested Gasol keep his criticisms “in house” and told reporters, “I just don’t think that’s the way to go and people should understand that we’re all trying to solve the same problem, so let’s just put our heads together and do the best we can.”
Honoring Dr. Jack?
Portland coach Terry Stotts found on eBay that 1970s pale plaid blazer he wore last weekend to commemorate Blazers legendary coach Dr. Jack Ramsay’s 89th birthday, and it took some searching.
“It’s not an easy thing to do, this was in somebody’s closet,” Stotts said. “I heard through the grapevine that he did appreciate it. Putting it on wasn’t the problem, walking out there was the problem.”
Wolves Week Ahead
Monday: 8 p.m. at Denver (FSN Plus)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. vs. New York (FSN)
Friday: 7 p.m. vs. Detroit (FSN)
Player to watch:
Carmelo Anthony, Knicks
The Knicks have turned into a train wreck, but you never know when Melo’s scoring will amaze. “It is an honor and a pleasure to watch Carmelo play,” TNT analyst Charles Barkley said. “He is a great player and a great scorer but the Knicks stink and we know that.”
"I missed him on purpose. I’m too skinny to be chest bumping, can’t hurt K-Love."
— Wolves forward Corey Brewer on his celebratory leap that missed teammate Kevin Love wide right before practice Thursday in Phoenix. Love successfully recreated — bare chest and all — a LeBron James dunk done on that very same practice court. James, and Love, threw the ball off a far wall and threw down a dunk after the ball bounded perfectly back to him.