The Celtics gave up plenty to bring Jeff Green to Boston, trading away Kendrick Perkins in a midseason deal that broke up the starting lineup from the 2008 NBA champions.
They've had little to show for it until now.
"I just think he's more aggressive," coach Doc Rivers said after the Celtics played back-to-back exhibition games this weekend and Green was the leading scorer in both. "He's comfortable in his game. He understands how to score, how he can score through our offense. The other part: He's happy, honestly. The guys like him; he likes them.
"He's comfortable here now," Rivers added. "I think last year, even though he didn't play, it probably did a world of good for him just being around the guys, and they accepted him. I think all that helped him. And he's got a chance to be just terrific."
Green struggled to fit in during his first half-season after coming to the Celtics in February, 2011, and he missed all of last year after an aortic aneurysm was discovered during a routine training camp physical. But now, with a full training camp and a healthy heart, Green is impressing his coaches and teammates.
"Jeff's always had talent. He's always had high expectations," point guard Rajon Rondo said after practice on Wednesday. "It's no different this year with us."
Green is the leading scorer on the Celtics so far this preseason, with 111 total points, an average of 13.9 per game. He is No. 2 on the team in rebounds to first-round draft choice Jared Sullinger and second to Rondo in minutes played; he also leads the Celtics in blocked shots in the preseason.
Green doesn't understand the fuss.
"This is the first time you guys even saw me play. That's why everyone's doing that," he said after practice on Wednesday. "I came into the situation when the team was already solid. They'd been here five years; it was tough to pick my spots. It takes time when you come to an organization like this."
Bynum disappointed to still be sidelined
Andrew Bynum did nothing more at Philadelphia 76ers practice than receive some slaps on the back.
His teammates tried to cheer up the center with a simple message: Hang in there.
Bynum wanted so much more out of the day he expected to practice for the first time with his new team. Bynum remained sidelined with right knee pain and is a long shot to play in the Oct. 31 opener.
His debut is on hold and no one knows when Bynum will return. He will continue to be held out of all basketball activity until he is pain free from a bone bruise he suffered during an offseason workout. The Sixers had pegged Wednesday as their franchise player's potential return date after a three-week layoff that cost him the entire preseason slate. Instead, Bynum was on the sidelines while the rest of the Sixers practiced and scrimmaged.
"He's a big investment for our team," Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo said. "We want to be cautious."
DiLeo said each day Bynum is out increases the likelihood the All-Star center will not be ready for the opener.
Bynum says he wants to be cautious with his return and will not play until he is pain free. He received an injection of Synvisc a gel-like substance that sometimes provides relief for inflamed tissue on Monday. The natural substance is designed to lubricate and cushion the joint.
Bynum will then work his way back into low-impact exercises after several days of rest following the injection.
Bynum is coming off his best NBA season after averaging career highs with 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds while making his first All-Star team, starting for the West.
Center spot dropped from All-Star ballots
Small ball has made its mark on the NBA All-Star ballot.
The league announced Wednesday that it was dropping the center spot from the ballot in a nod to the way the sport has changed in recent years.
Fans will vote for three frontcourt players and two guards, instead of two guards, two forwards and a center.
NBA executive vice president of operations Stu Jackson says having a center on the ballot was "outdated and not representative of today's game or players." He adds that players have become more versatile and "this ballot will more accurately reflect that versatility."
Teams like Miami (Chris Bosh), Boston (Kevin Garnett) and San Antonio (Tim Duncan) all used forwards as center with great success last season.
The ballot comes out Nov. 13.