This offseason the biggest question for the NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors, is whether or not to sign Draymond Green on the max contract he wants, or try and see if through restricted free agency they can lower his asking price a bit.
Giving Green a max deal creates other issues as well. Right now, if the Warriors keep Marreese Speights (team option of $3.8 million), they’re going to pay $83.4 million next season, thanks to Klay Thompson’s max contract kicking in, giving him a $12 million pay raise. A lot of luxury tax, and if Green gets his deal, we’re going above the $90 million threshold before taxes and penalties.
There’s one thing that can offset the Green max extension, and that’s the thing the Warriors are trying to do: Trading David Lee. Lee is owed $15.5 million next season, and managing to trade him without taking back too many bad contracts might be the key to the lock that is giving Green that max extension. After all, even if Joe Lacob doesn’t mind paying the luxury tax, it’s doubtful he’s willing to go that high.
And to think that Green, a second round pick in 2012, had only $250,000 guaranteed on his deal entering this season. He did well in 2013-2014, but this season was in a completely different stratosphere of effectiveness. You don’t often see players averaging 11.7 points per game (8.2 rebounds as well) getting so much money, but Green has proven he can do it all pretty much on both ends of the floor, and was huge for the Warriors in the playoffs, despite going through some rough patches here and there offensively.
Green will have suitors. The Detroit Pistons (Green is from Michigan and played college ball at Michigan State) are rumored to be interested in him and might force the Golden State’s hand with a max offer sheet. Again, the decision to keep him with that much money would be easier if Lee was going to leave and the Warriors wouldn’t be taking any money back.
But just Lee for draft picks or non-guaranteed deals? Hard to believe. Lee is still a very good player offensively, and it’s hard to believe that when healthy he’s not going to be a double double machine or something close to it. But for a championship team like the Warriors, in their specific system, he has very little use. He had his moment for a very short while in the game 4 and 5 wins, but the Warriors were mostly better without him because Lee offers zero rim protection.
The Warriors are willing to give their 30th overall draft pick along with the Lee pick to sweeten the deal. So far, there hasn’t been a lot of movement to receive him getting picked up, but there are always things being done and talked about below the surface. Green is a lot more important to the Warriors in their attempt to start their repeat effort. Lee might be the most important thing standing in the way.