Draymond Green won’t like this



Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers says he doesn’t want to worry too much about next season, which is understandable: His team has another championship to chase before they have to make critical roster decisions. in the summer of 2023.

But if you don’t believe Myers thought about the franchise’s long-term prospects when he signed Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins to huge contract extensions last weekend, you’re naïve. Myers has established himself as one of the NBA’s most senior executives by taking a macro approach to every roster change.

By the time Kevin Durant decided to leave for the Nets in free agency three years ago, Myers had already weighed all of his options and plotted a complex signing and trade that would ultimately help land Wiggins and Jonathan Kuminga in San Francisco. When Myers agreed to pay Poole and Wiggins $249 million over four years, he knew exactly what it meant: Draymond Green’s days with the Warriors are likely numbered.

If the team stayed on its current course and kept Green on the roster beyond this season, it would peg a total 2023-24 payroll — salaries and luxury taxes — of around $500 million. It’s just not feasible. The Warriors may be one of the most profitable franchises in the NBA, but even they aren’t willing to spend half a billion dollars on a basketball team.

Myers said majority owner Joe Lacob should fire him if Golden State had a roster costing north of $400 million and didn’t win a championship. Even after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years last June with a total payroll of around $362 million, Myers showed how serious he was about cost containment when he refused. to match Portland’s three-year, $28 million offer sheet for Gary Payton II.

The problem for the Warriors is that they have no easy way to lower that projected 2023-24 payroll by about $400 million. Aside from Poole, Wiggins and Stephen Curry, Golden State’s only major contracts next season are Green at $27.6 million – assuming he exercises his player option – and Klay Thompson at $43.2 million. dollars.

If Myers keeps both Green and Thompson, he may have no choice but to cut costs for the rest of the rotation. That would mean giving up Kevon Looney ($8.5 million in 2023-24), Donte DiVincenzo ($4.7 million player option) and maybe even James Wiseman ($12.1 million team option). dollars) or Kuminga ($6 million team option). To do that would crater the Warriors’ depth, dissolve the young core they’ve worked so hard to develop, and set the team back for years to come.

It’s not really an option.

Extensions Poole and Wiggins ensured that choice had to be between Green and Thompson. And Green is the more likely of the two to go.

Even before Green hit Poole in training two weeks ago, he thought he was the odd man out in whatever scenario Poole and Wiggins had been locked into for the long haul. Along with his contract being far more negotiable than Thompson’s, Green only amplified concerns in the Finals that he could be headed for a big drop.

Then there are the tempo control issues that have long given Green trouble. Green’s hard strike on Poole – and the public reaction sparked by a viral video of it – caused irreparable damage to his position in the locker room. While his teammates may move past this incident to contend for another title, they are unlikely to ever forget that Green attacked the much smaller and much younger Poole.

When making such a seismic decision on the Warriors’ future, Myers must consider Curry’s perspective. It was clear at his press conference the day after Green’s punch that Curry had had enough of Green’s antics. If Curry had the option of keeping Thompson — a model teammate fresh off an inspirational comeback — or Green, a mind reader shouldn’t have guessed who he would pick.

The question is not so much whether a green divorce is coming, but rather how and when it will happen. As Myers was quick to note at Sunday’s press conference, “Draymond is in a great position. It has a player option. … It’s a great position for a player. You control your destiny.

At any time, Green can exercise that $27.6 million player option and be on the Warriors’ books for next season. It’s leverage. If things got bad enough that Myers just wanted to let Green go for nothing in free agency next summer, Green would likely pick his player option and force the Warriors to trade him. Chances are the $27.6 million salary is way more than he would command on the open market.

Front offices across the league have differing opinions on Green’s value, even before his infamous Poole punch. Now, with every GM likely having seen this video, Green will only be harder to offload.

Only two teams — San Antonio and Indiana — believe they have enough salary cap space this season to absorb Green’s contract. Even if those franchises wanted Green, they certainly aren’t crazy enough to acquire him knowing he can become a free agent next summer.

The Warriors realize they have to be patient, hope Green can help them win another title, then reevaluate their options. Maybe he can increase his market value enough for Golden State to trade him in for a mouth-watering package next summer. One possible destination is Detroit, which could tout its acquisition as a homecoming.

The Pistons desperately need a power forward, and they should have a salary cap. Adding Green as a mentor to youngsters like Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and Saddiq Bey would only speed up their rebuilding.

There’s also a chance — albeit a somewhat slim one — that Green will look at the NBA landscape next summer and decide it’s best to stay with the Warriors. While Golden State can’t afford that $27.6 million player option, it could try to structure a multi-year deal that keeps its luxury tax bill manageable while paying Green more money on a bigger deal. long period. Such a contract would likely be preloaded, with the last year or so not guaranteed.

But chances are Green is already unhappy that management has prioritized Poole and Wiggins, which leaves one wondering: How would Green feel about making just a fraction of his teammates less? experienced? The harsh reality is that he may have no other choice.

Gone are the days of Green dictating his terms. Just as he lost his Warriors heartbeat status, he lost much of his bargaining power.

All he can do is follow Myers’ lead: focus on this season and believe better days are ahead.

Connor Letourneau is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Con_Chron