Draymond Green

Why Draymond-Warriors marriage is one that must continue

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Steph Curry didn’t waste any time in the summer of 2017, agreeing to a five-year, $201 million contract to remain a Warrior, coming off his second championship and third straight trip to the NBA Finals. Curry signed his second contract north of $200 million in August of 2021, putting his signature on a $215 million extension without any hesitation. 

The Warriors awarded Klay Thompson to the tune of a $190 million maximum contract extension as free agency began in 2019, despite knowing he would miss the entire next season rehabbing a torn ACL. Thompson’s contract only has one season remaining, and the two sides could face tough conversations next summer. That’s for another time, though. 

Golden State’s direction has been loud and clear before Friday’s free-agency window opens. The organization is going all-in on the now, but the mission isn’t complete unless the final piece of an all-time trio stays in the Bay. 

Draymond Green was quick to agree on a five-year, $82 million contract in 2015. He likely won’t be in a race to cross the finish line the moment the starting pistol fires this time around, and might take a bit longer to make his final call. Green officially declined his $27.6 million player option last week, making him an unrestricted free agent. This will be his last chance to sign a deal near, at, or over nine figures

Once the Warriors’ season ended early on May 12 in Los Angeles, Green made his feelings on his future as free from interpretation as possible. 

“I want to be a Warrior for the rest of my life,” said after the Warriors’ second-round exit. “I want to ride out with the same dudes I rode in with.”

Steve Kerr and new general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. have echoed those same sentiments as well, adding how much the Warriors still need Green to compete at the highest level.

“Look, if Draymond is not back, we're not a championship contender,” Kerr said at his end-of-the-season press conference. “We know that. He's that important to winning and to who we are. I absolutely want him back.”

Dunleavy at his introductory press conference one month later added: “Steve has said it and I will reiterate it, we really want Draymond back. What he means in terms of this organization and this team, winning at the highest level, we feel like we have to have him. So that's very important.” 

The Draymond-Warriors marriage is one that has needed breaks. There have been missteps along the way, and even regrets over the last 11 years. Green himself has acknowledged he believes the Warriors’ season would have lasted longer if it weren’t for him punching Jordan Poole in training camp. Like the reality of actual marriages, frustrations have kept both sides up late at night. 

As Green, 33, enters free agency and the latter end of his career, any ounce left of exasperation doesn’t amount to what has been built for more than a decade. The partnership of player and team is one that needs to continue, and one that benefits each other mutually. 

Without Green last season, the Warriors were 3-6 and their defensive rating was nearly four points worse than when he suited up. They averaged nine fewer points playing in his absence and turned the ball over three more times per game. He played 73 games while fighting through nagging issues, one season after missing two months to a back injury and grinding through a title run. His 8.5 points per game were his most since 2017-18, he shot a career-high 61.2 percent on 2-pointers, his 30.5 percent clip from deep was his best since 2016-17 and his 2.6 defensive box plus/minus ranked fourth in the NBA. 

Do any of those offensive numbers really stick out? The five players ahead of Green in points per game last season were Ayo Dosunmu, T.J. McConnell, Cedi Osman, Jordan Nwora and Terance Mann. So many other numbers can prove what a needed piece Green has been, and will continue to be. Knowing his game and importance also has been, and will continue to be, about so much more than counting stats.

All three of Curry, Thompson and Green have Hall of Fame talents that would improve any team, Draymond just so happens to be the most unique and possibly the most incomparable of the three. Every team is searching for the next version of him, yet the Warriors undoubtedly bring out the best version of him, regardless of any scenario one might conjure. 

Trading for Chris Paul erased any doubts about where the Warriors envision themselves, and the move should have sent a message to Green he couldn’t miss. They’ll do what’s needed to make sure the dynasty isn’t over and can begin a new chapter, and though it runs through Curry, Green getting on board keeps the train on track – even if the ride gets bumpy a time or two along the way.

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