You’d be excused if you thought this piece would be about the latest antics of Draymond Green, specifically him stomping in the chest of Domantas Sabonis leading to a Game 2 ejection, and a Game 3 suspension, which is now concluded.
Instead, this piece is about the long-term relationship between Green and the Golden State Warriors seen through the lens of finances.
Green has a player option for the 2023-2024 season worth over $27.5 million, and should he decline it, he would become an unrestricted free agent this summer, presumably looking for both a raise in pay and more years.
Needless to say, Green could kick that can down the road a year by picking up his option. But he’d then hit the free agent market at the age of 34, raising questions about how much longer he’d be among the league’s most influential players.
After all, Green is increasingly becoming a non-factor in the scoring column, prioritizing playmaking and defense over shot-making, which in today’s game means you need to work around those parameters. The older he gets, and the more he leans into not being a factor scoring-wise, the more difficult it will be for him to create an active market.
Whether Green opts out this summer, or he waits for 2024, the Warriors are sure to take a thorough look at their future cap projections, as the team has grown so expensive, it’s likely changes will be coming to trim their salary expenses. And make no mistake, Stephen Curry isn’t going anywhere.
Green, who has been a part of the current Warriors dynasty since the first championship and is an integral part of the team’s success, is as close to irreplaceable as it gets, but so are both Curry and Klay Thompson, the latter of which will be looking for a new contract in 2024.
Add that to the fact that Andrew Wiggins is a half decade younger than Green, and has longer staying power, and the calculus for Green changes from irreplaceable to “Hey, maybe we have to think about actually saying a begrudging goodbye.”
The Warriors would hate to lose Green. He anchors Steve Kerr’s defense and is routinely the team leader in assists. His aforementioned lack of a need for a high shot amount does allow Curry, Thompson, and Wiggins to get theirs, which goes a long way in maintaining a high level of team chemistry for the Warriors specifically.
But, at the end of the day, an increase in compensation to Green means more money on the salary cap, which means more money in luxury tax payments, an area where the Warriors wish to cut down.
The Warriors might have no choice but to play hardball with the former All-Star, given that Green’s specific playstyle, constant controversies, and fairly advanced age doesn’t make him specifically attractive to the vast majority of the league’s teams. After all, Green has benefitted greatly from playing with the two best shooters in NBA history, and any move to another team will see him be less effective by the worsening spacing around him.
While Golden State doesn’t have matching rights, it’s entirely fair to take the approach of asking Green to prove his own market, before they commit. If Green is searching for, say, $30 million annually and fails to secure an offer in that area, there’s no reason for the Warriors to offer it, as they would outbid themselves for no reason.
Of course, skepticism to this approach is understandable, especially since Green is such a foundational piece of what makes the Warriors go. And it might come back to bite the Warriors hard if Green leaves, and enjoys a high level of success elsewhere.
And that’s the decision the Warriors will need to make.
Are they willing to risk their relationship with Green by taking a firm stance in negotiations? Or, are they better off just paying what Green is asking for, and trying to work around the fringe margins to set a decent rotation on a heavily restricted budget?
They’ll need to find out soon.
Unless noted otherwise, all stats via NBA.com, PBPStats, Cleaning the Glass or Basketball-Reference. All salary information via Spotrac. All odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.
#Warriors #Draymond #Green #Decision