Green: 'Little Bit Of A Shocker''

This had been planned for quite a while. Willie Green was taking his family on a mini-vacation during the last weekend before training camp. He was ready to be virtually ''counted out'' again as he prepared for his eighth season with the 76ers. He never seemed to be pencilled in for the same role.

Whatever his role this season turns out to be, it won't be with the Sixers. Green and big man Jason Smith were traded to New Orleans for veteran forward Darius Songaila and rookie big man Craig Brackins.

''It was a little bit of a shocker to find out the weekend before training camp,'' Green told the Daily News in a telephone interview. ''But I understand the nature of the business. It's never personal. I have nothing but good things to say about the organization in Philadelphia. ''They gave me a great opportunity to fulfill my dreams of playing in the NBA.

''I understand first and foremost that playing in the NBA is something you earn. For the most, it was good times (in Philadelphia). A part of me will always be there.''

Minutes were going to be hard to come by for Green and Smith with the Sixers. The opportunity should be better with the Hornets, particularly for Green because the Hornets had no viable backup for Chris Paul once they traded Darren Collison to Indiana.

''We had a gap at the backup point guard position,'' Hornets general manager Dell Demps told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. ''Willie is a veteran who's a combo guard, can play both point and shooting guard.''

The 6-3 Green was a second-round choice of Seattle in 2003 and was traded to the Sixers on draft night. He leaves with a career scoring average of 9.4 points in 422 games, including 211 starts.

The 7-foot Smith was the No. 20 overall pick in 2007, taken by Miami and dealt to the Sixers, also on draft night. He missed all of '08-09 after surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

''You take a guy like Jason who has some size and can shoot the ball, and you can't just laugh at that,'' Hornets coach Monty Williams, a former Sixer, told the Times-Picayune. ''That's a guy you have to take in to account, but he's a guy who's coming off an injury, who hasn't played a lot in the last two years. From that standpoint, we still don't know.''

More with Green coming in Saturday's Daily News.