One of these days veteran guard Chauncey Billups will be sound enough to return to the Clippers’ starting lineup and Willie Green will take a seat on the bench. If all goes as planned, Billups will play significant minutes and Green will be a cheerleader.
Green won’t say a word in anger. He won’t complain about his reduced role.
That’s simply not his method of operation.
“We all have to do our parts,” Green said before scoring nine points Thursday in the Clippers’ 106-77 beat-down of the Boston Celtics when asked about the inevitable move from starter to backup when Billups recovers from ankle tendinitis. “Great teams become great because everybody knows their role.”
Green was something of a surprise choice to fill in for Billups, who suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon tear last February and didn’t make his 2012-13 debut until Nov. 28. Billups started three games and Green didn’t play a minute in any of them.
When tendinitis flared in his ankle, Billups returned to the sideline and Green became a starter again. Green’s production isn’t what the Clippers expect to get from a healthy Billups, but somehow he and the team have made it work en route to a league-leading 22-6 record going into Thursday.
“There is something special going on here and we all have to do our parts,” said Green, who went into Thursday’s game averaging only 5.9 points and 1.5 rebounds. “There’s still a lot of room for improvement. It’s still early in the season.”
There’s no timetable for Billups’ return to the active roster, which means Green will continue in his role for the immediate future. Green has played with damaged knee cartilage, something Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro takes into account when assessing the veteran guard’s production.
“Willie’s a pro,” Del Negro said. “He’s solid on the court and off the court and in the locker room. He gives us what he can. I think that’s one of the reasons we wanted him (in a trade last July 30 from the Atlanta Hawks). No one knows when Chauncey’s going to be back.”
So, Green has the job until Billups does return to the lineup.