But there is no question who gives the Golden State Warriors their heart and soul: Draymond Green.
Is he, based on pure basketball skills, worth the four-year, $100 million extension he signed over the weekend that includes a player option for the final year? Probably not.
But his value in terms of passion and energy? Priceless.
Green’s stat lines don’t leap off the page. He is inconsistent from beyond-the-arc. It is almost comical to watch defenses give him all the space in the world to launch threes only for Green to wait for Curry or Thompson to free themselves for a contested look.
But the Warriors aren’t paying for Green to shoot jumpers. Even with Durant gone and the roster re-tooled, they aren’t going to be running plays for Green on offense.
The Warriors are paying for Green’s brain. His basketball IQ is unparalleled, and he is a perfect fit for this team. The hypothetical question of “how would Green look on any other NBA team” has been broached many times, and the answer is … well, it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter because both the Warriors and Green made the right decision this offseason to continue this marriage, a marriage that has worked out perfectly for both sides to this point. Green is 29. This contract will take him up to his mid-30s, during and past his prime years.
Green could have tested the market. He would have been eligible for a $200 million contract had he hit free agency next season. But he didn’t, and that says a lot.
It says that he is comfortable here. Green wants to remain in the Bay Area. He wants the familiarity of playing with Curry and Thompson, to work for a franchise that values him and a fanbase that adores him.
It says that he wants the best for the team. If he had played the entire 2019-20 season with free agency looming, that would have been the dominant topic hanging over his head the entire campaign. There would be speculation and rumors about him leaving, especially if the season goes south.
And it is a subtle statement at the free agent who did leave Golden State this offseason. Green’s rift with Durant last season was in part due to KD’s impending free agency decision, a topic that consumed much of the season and was a constant source of stress for the franchise even as it zoomed to its fifth straight Finals appearance. Green left money on the table to make himself and the franchise feel more comfortable heading into the post-KD phase while making a noticeable juxtaposition to No. 7.
Furthermore, it means the Warriors — who just a short while ago seemed to have so many questions surrounding their future — are back with a plan. They have four All-Stars locked up through at least 2022, when Curry’s contract is up. Green and Thompson are signed through 2024. D’Angelo Russell, if he is in the Warriors’ long-term plans, is locked up until 2023.
With or without KD, that is a contending roster. And retaining Green was the final step for General Manager Bob Myers to turn a chaotic offseason into a successful one, considering the circumstances.
Myers is taking a page out of the San Antonio Spurs playbook by making sure the core nucleus of the roster stays together. It was Curry, Thompson and Green who started the Warriors dynasty. Five years later, it is those three who remain.
Sure, they are older. Teams have had half a decade to gameplan for Curry. Thompson just suffered the first major injury of his career. It remains to be seen how effective Green’s style of play will be as he ages.
Yet, similar questions were raised about Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli as they carried the Spurs dynasty forward. And yet, look at the gaps between their championship seasons after the turn of the century: 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014. By 2014, Duncan was 37. Ginobli was 36. Parker was 31. Somehow, they toppled LeBron James and the mighty Miami Heat superteam.
So spare the funeral plans for the Warriors dynasty, who literally just added a 23-year-old All-Star in Russell. Curry is 31; both Green and Thompson are 29. Keep those guys happy and healthy and this team will be contending for years to come.
Green understood that, and that is why he isn’t moving anytime soon.