BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers said the team was informed Monday afternoon that Jeff Green's surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm "went great" and that he hopes the process will allow Green to return to an NBA court at some point.
"Surgery went well, he had surgery today -- they're saying it went great," Rivers said. "Obviously our thoughts, our prayers and every part of our being is with Jeff right now.
"The second news we want to hear is that he'll be able to play again. That would be terrific. I don't care if it's with us -- I want it to be with us -- [but] I just want him to. Really, at the end of the day, that's what we want."
Rivers said he talked with Green on Friday to wish him well with Monday's procedure at the Cleveland Clinic. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge visited the team's afternoon practice session to relay the encouraging news that surgery went well.
Green will miss the entire 2011-12 season, but doctors are optimistic he'll be able to return to the court during the 2012-13 season if his recovery goes well.
Prior to the startling discovery of the aneurysm, Green figured to play a big role for the 2011-12 Celtics. The team was hoping they'd see a more confident, assertive player who, with the benefit of a brief training camp, would be more comfortable. But the red flag from his physical forced him to the sidelines for the first few workouts and, after a second consultation, the aneurysm diagnosis was confirmed and a surgery date set.
If and when Green returns, it will be as an unrestricted free agent. That's because the Celtics, in a move that was not made public, withdrew Green's qualifying offer in mid-December, right around the time he failed his physical and had his one-year, $9 million contract voided. Had the offer not been withdrawn, and the Celtics were under no obligation whatsoever to do so, Green would have been a restricted free agent, with the Celtics able to match any offer he received from another team.
Asked about the decision on Friday, Ainge said he preferred not to discuss the matter, citing Green's impending surgery. Ainge did confirm the move, however. It may have been nothing more than a goodwill gesture on the part of the Celtics to Green and his agent, David Falk, who said the team has been "phenomenal" in handling the situation.
"It was not something we expected or bargained for, but coming as it did after such devastating medical news it was almost like an early Christmas present," Falk said.
Theoretically, any team could sign Green right now, with the understanding that he would not be available until next season at the earliest. But if no team steps up between now and July 1, Green would join a free-agent class that could include Dwight Howard and Deron Williams, as well as (former) teammates Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.
Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com. Longtime Celtics writer Peter May and The Associated Press contributed to this report.