On Friday, former Houston Rockets talent Gerald Green announced that he would be retiring from basketball and becoming a player development coach for franchise.
Green played two seasons for the Rockets, but left a pretty indelible mark on the organization and city. In addition to being a pretty capable shooter and helpful contributor to Houston’s deep playoff runs, fans embraced the Houston native with open arms and players loved being around his positive attitude. Green made some posts on social media alluding the mental health struggles he dealt with leading up to his retirement and even talked about it on at the press conference.
“I’ve been going through some things this past year trying to get right,” said Gerald Green. “It was a little tough for me. Working out every day trying to fulfil my dream. With some things in life, you just have to know how to close the chapter and open up another one.”
Rockets GM Rafael Stone had been trying to recruit Green for this position for a couple years dating back to the pandemic. Green had always considered coaching one day, but didn’t want to officially hang it up until now. He also credited Rockets ownership for being aggressive in the recruitment effort.
“It’s a little bittersweet and I get that,” said Stone. “Just because you’re not a player doesn’t mean there’s not a spot for you. I think Gerald’s a special guy. You guys know him. Gerald’s the type of person who brings a smile to your face when you’re in his presence. There’s no business or organization that’s not better for having people like that.”
Stone is one hundred percent in his evaluation of Green as a person. From a media perspective, he was always unselfish with his time, a joy to interview, and just an overall good human being. It’s not hard to see players becoming fond of him as an addition to the staff. However, there is the question of how he can substantively help the Rockets as a basketball team amidst their rebuilding process.
“It’s going to be a tough journey,” said Gerald Green. “There’s not a lot of guys who came out of high school being so young [like me]. I think my job is to make sure those guys get the right guidance. Tell them the things that I wasn’t told when I was a young kid. We got several talented guys on our team. We got a very nice core. My job is to make sure our growing pains aren’t pains, they’re just lessons.”
This is where Green’s positivity isn’t just a plaudit, but a helpful attribute. The Rockets are going to lose a lot of games over the next couple years and for young players that have won at every level they’ve been at it, it may feel like the sky is falling. Losing sucks the energy out of a building and Green is exactly the kind of person you want in those environments. He was the quintessential spirit-lifter during the James Harden and Chris Paul era, so that will be part of his new role with the team.
“I would say Gerald can be an asset to every team in the NBA,” said Stone. “He’s lived an NBA life – like a super full one. We have a bunch of players on our team who are starting their journey. So I think in that respect, Gerald’s great. Gerald’s in the gym all the time. I think his work habits and everything else, just his approach to the game is going to be really helpful. I think it’s going to be great for a really young team that’s trying to build the right habits.”
In addition to the positive attitude and work ethic, Green had this confidence to him as a player that could rub off well on young players. As a shooter, there wasn’t a shot that was too deep or too contested for Green. If someone like K.J. Martin or Usman Garuba gets too timid from beyond the arc, it’s not hard to see Gerald Green being someone who instills confidence.
Evaluating coaching hires are really difficult and they’re even tougher when it’s an assistant, but this is probably a move that will receive unanimous approval from fans, media, players, and other coaches on the staff.