Willie green has started 51 games for the Clippers this season but is averaging… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
Willie Green understands his role with the Clippers.
It is to start at shooting guard when Chauncey Billups is out with an injury. It is to support his teammates when Billups is playing. It is to be a professional when he doesn't play at all.
Green has been in the NBA for 10 years and he's not about to cause any problems, because he is a team-first player.
"It helps from the standpoint that I can see the bigger picture," Green said. "And the bigger picture is not me moaning and complaining about a couple of games I don't play in. The bigger is picture is that everybody was brought here with the knowledge that we want to go far in the playoffs."
Green said he understands that Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro has a deep roster and that everybody wants to play.
Moreover, Green said everybody in the rotation has contributed to the Clippers winning games.
"I really don't see anything that I'm going to get good out of putting my head down and complaining because I know my opportunity is going to come and when it comes, take advantage of it," Green said. "When I'm not playing, cheer on the guys that are out there because we win together, we lose together."
Green started the first 18 games while Billups recovered from surgery on his left Achilles' tendon.
When Billups returned for three games, Green didn't even play.
But when Billups was suffering from tendinitis in his left foot, Green started the next 34 games.
Now Billups is out again with a strained right groin.
Green started his second straight game Saturday night against the Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center — his 51st start in the Clippers' 60 games. But he averages only 16.4 minutes per game.
"It's difficult," Green said. "It's a challenge because I know and I feel I can come in and contribute even when our team is healthy. But unfortunately, it doesn't always play out that way. So, I thank God for every opportunity that I get."
Green said he has talked to Del Negro to get a better understanding of his role when Billups is playing and when he's not.
"I talk to him about just making sure we're in constant communication about the changes that may happen with guys coming in and out," Green said. "That helps players and that helps coaches if we're talking and if we're in communication.
"If Chauncey is going to be out, that's something that I would like to know so I can start preparing. If Chauncey is playing, obviously Vinny will say to me, 'Chauncey is playing but stay ready.' So, it's just small talk, small communication. But it goes a long way in a team game."