Less than 10 months after the Warriors’ front-office collective convened to discuss whether the positive impact of Draymond Green still outweighed the spasms of turmoil, those same shot callers are in Draymond-or-bust mode and not bothering to hide it.
After a few weeks feigning belief that Jordan Poole and Draymond could splendidly coexist by next September, the Warriors reached a rational decision. One would go. And it would be Poole, the dynamic youngster still two or three years away from his NBA prime.
In short, the Warriors chose Draymond, 33, and his contract ambiguity over Jordan Poole, 24, and his contract certainty.
This was the priority from the moment the season ended. It was made clear when outgoing general manager Bob Myers announced that he would be willing to assist the incoming GM, should it be Mike Dunleavy, with keeping the team firebrand on task.
Otherwise, Dunleavy, after officially getting the promotion last week, likely would not have put himself in delicate position of telling Dub Nation and the rest of the NBA that the Warriors “feel like we have to have” Green.
Don’t think that pitch didn’t reach Draymond’s ears in a matter of seconds.
Golden State’s all-hands-on-deck persuasion is now in its seventh week. The front office is, by majority, invested in the idea of a new contract for Draymond. No need to consult with Stephen Curry because desires were not unclear.
With Golden State’s naked aspirations on full display, Draymond is skipping into unrestricted free agency. Leverage is swinging his way. He holds the power.
Green choices are plentiful enough that he can spend most days as the grinning subject of rampant speculation as rumors buzz about his head.
The Kings have salary-cap space and coach Mike Brown would love to have Draymond — one of his favorite players — in Sacramento to help guide a defensively deficient team with a chance to be very good for many years.
The Rockets, with almost twice the cap space as the Kings, have a talented young roster and new coach, Ime Udoka, whose fierce basketball mentality mirrors that of Draymond.
The Pistons, so admired by Draymond as a kid growing up in Michigan, also have a talented young roster and a new coach — and enough cap space to wave their flag of hope.
Several other teams, including the Lakers, are thought willing to consider payroll manipulation that would create enough cap space to make a serious play for the four-time All-Star and eight-time All-Defensive team member.
As someone who entered the NBA as a second-round pick still hears criticisms of his conduct and the offensive skills he lacks, Draymond reached a space in which he could comfortably opt out of the final year of his previous contract. One year at $27.6 million loses every time to three at $100 million.
Draymond’s first foray into unrestricted free agency feels like paradise.
Though he often states his desire to retire as a Warrior, the agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports has gone on record with the usual negotiator’s script, which always includes the line “explore all options.”
The Warriors, however, have the sentimental edge, and sentiment matters to Draymond. They drafted him, making them the first to believe in him. To know the road Draymond has traveled from Flint, Mich., is to know trust is crucial. Only the Warriors watched him play his way into their starting lineup and become an essential ingredient in winning multiple championships.
Only the Warriors have Steph and Klay, both of whom have a clear understanding of Draymond’s value. Only they have the uniqueness that comes with three players — Steph, Klay, Draymond — who have been teammates for more than 10 seasons, which is a lifetime in the modern NBA.
The Warriors have history and the glorious nostalgia that comes with it. They are optimistic these factors — along with CEO Joe Lacob being willing to open the organization’s wallet to the necessary degree — will be enough for Draymond to return for one more contract.
You must remember that Draymond’s motor runs on the fuel of disrespect. He can turn the slightest morsel of a slight, intended or not, into a full affront. Just as he knows 34 players were drafted ahead of him, he also knows Poole’s contract exceeded any he has ever signed.
It took 11 years and four championship rings, but Draymond finally is getting the VIP treatment. He’s an object of broad desire. Why? Because even now, this imperfect man, imperfect player and imperfect teammate is a practically perfect winner.
Draymond is playing this right way. He’ll get what he wants. He’ll get it from the Warriors, who want no part of seeing him go elsewhere.