Contrary to what recent transactions will tell you about the state of the NBA, chemistry is still a valuable piece to building a championship caliber team. There are countless factors that influence how teams work together, so any semblance of prior familiarity bodes well for the future of a squad looking for ultimate success.
Instead of dreaming about that next top tier star that could replace Durant for their next era, they're banking on what has brought them three championships in five years, If it ain't broke, don't fix it right? Well Golden State is taking that phrase to heart with the expectation it will pay off in spades much like the past half decade has.
You can't help but be impressed with what The Bay, The City, The Town, or whatever you'd like to name it has built using a combination of smarts and faith. The aspect of smarts is pretty self explanatory. Savvy drafting and sound strategies obviously propelled them to unspeakable heights. However, it took a fair amount of faith, because the franchise was faced with several tough choices during it's development that required going against the grain. In 2012, the team moved on from fan favorite Monta Ellis and handed the backcourt keys to youngster by the name of Stephen Curry. Next, Mark Jackson, who was loved in the locker room and laid the defensive roots for the future champions was let go in favor of Steve Kerr, who was more forward thinking with his approach to offensive schemes. Their next leap of faith came during the 2013-2014 season when Warriors All-Star David Lee suffered an unfortunate injury. In many ways, his unfortunate turn of fate served as a launching pad for Draymond Green to impose his will and raise the Warrior's ceiling. As dominant as Lee was at times, everybody knew that he was not the solution to the championship puzzle that deprived the Warriors of a chip for 40 years.
Green seized his chance to shine and never looked back. He turned out to be such a perfect fit alongside Curry's shooting and playmaking that he began to start on a permanent basis and Lee became expendable. He rode that strong play to a 2015 championship and a 5 year max deal worth $82 million over the course of the term. At the time of the signing, it was viewed very positively and it has only improved over time due to the cap spike. Four years ago, the NBA salary cap was set at $70 million and Green's deal ate up about 20 percent of that team limit. Fast forward to the the 2018-2019 season that just concluded and the cap has risen to an incredible mark of $101.8 million. If we convert his deal to the percentage of the Warriors cap now, it was only 18 percent. That's quite the return on investment. Green has secured a Defensive Player of the Year award between then and now along with being a key piece in securing both the 2017 and 2018 NBA titles. He was due for a hefty deal going into this Summer, and that is exactly what he got...sort of.
It's easy to get ahead of ourselves and forget that Green actually has one more year of his previous contract to play out before the jump hits. For the next season, he is scheduled to receive $18.5 million, which is a major bargain if you stop to consider what some of his peers are getting. As of August 2019, he is the 9th highest paid Power Forward in the league. He slots in right between Julius Randle ($18 million) and Aaron Gordon ($19.8 million). It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Draymond's elite toughness, defensive IQ, and playmaking make him a good amount more valuable than either of those aforementioned forwards. Sure they are a few years younger with a bit more growing to do, but it would take a huge leap for either of them to be All-NBA or even All-Star material. For the Warriors, they should have nothing to worry about for the next year in terms of this contract. It's one of the best bargains in the league and he won't even be due any extra money stemming from bonuses. Also, he is only going into his age 29 season, so regression shouldn't be a huge concern, although he might elect to pace himself throughout the course of the regular season as a result of consecutive long playoff runs. This strategy may remind you of another California resident that enjoys eating Tacos on the third day of every week.
Things get marginally more tricky when we move onto the extension years. To get the details out of the way, Green signed a four year contract worth $99.7 million with no bonuses, a 15% trade kicker, and a player option in 2023. If this seems like another bargain deal for the Dubs, that's because it is. The starting salary of the deal is a measly $22.2 million. That is only $4 million more than he will get this coming season and is still $3.8 million less than what Lamarcus Aldridge's 2019-2020 salary is worth. This is a huge blessing for Golden State, because Green did not have to do this. He easily could have waited until next Summer, dove headfirst into Unrestricted Free Agency territory and commanded a much richer deal worth $201.8 over five years, if he insisted upon resigning with the Warriors. That comes out to an average of $40 million per season, or double what he will make under his current extension. Believe it or not, it could have gone even higher(!!) if Green managed to be selected to an All-NBA team next season, or win another DPOY. It's possible that despite the on court production and intangibles that he brings to the table, that Golden State would have hesitated to hand out a deal that pricey.
According to Early Bird Rights, GSW will pay out $138 million in salary in 2020, $145 million in 2021, and $156 million in 2022 as a result of new deals for Klay Thompson, D'Angelo Russell, and of course, Draymond Green. Adding another $20 million annually to the bill would not have been an easy pill to swallow for ownership, no matter how many seats they end up filling in the new Chase Center. (Spoiler alert, it's gonna be alot.) As things stand now, unless they end up shedding some money in salary dumps, or cuts, Golden State will be between $4 million and $6 million over the luxury tax the next three years. This means penalties are still coming, since the repeater tax is already in play and will only continue to multiply over time. It's likely that the team ends up paying between $2.50 and $2.75 on the dollar for money spent over the tax. That can add up quickly and be extremely detrimental in the pursuit of supplemental talent. This is the price NBA royalty must pay for their past success. From one side of the equation, this is an amazing deal to hand out in exchange for the services of the brash forward from Michigan State.
On the other hand, this is still a risk on the Warrior's part. Green is no spring chicken anymore. He will be 30 by the start of the extension, and we all know how Father Time likes to rear his ugly head past that landmark of human life. With the way Green likes to attack the rim with reckless abandon and sacrifice his body for defensive purposes, it's not hard to imagine a world where he begins to lose a step or two in short order. That could be even more of a hinderance in Draymond's case, since his long range shooting has regressed in recent years and plummeted to 28.5% in 2018-2019. Defenses are sure to lay off of him from behind the arc. If his quickness wanes, he will lose another edge on offense and part of what makes him so special on defense.
Last season, he came into the start of the season out of shape, and had to make up for lost time as the games progressed. What if that becomes a reoccurring trend and it wears on the patience of his teammates and coaches? His resume won't be able to save him from losing favor in the locker room. There are a multitude of possibilities that await us if we venture into the world of multiple realities. In any case, even a deal like this is not a sure thing.
After looking at this deal from two separate point of views, we can conclude that this was indeed a compromise. Each party realized the risks that were present at the time of negotiations. The player was facing risk of injury and an athletic drop off going into his third NBA contract. The team was looking at a future of ballooning tax payments and roster constraints. This mutual understanding ensures that the pillars that uphold the values that make Golden State such a prosperous franchise remain in place and the team can continue to be competitive in the wake of Durant's departure. New addition D'Angelo Russell also can take comfort in knowing that his frontcourt mate who perfectly compliments his skills will not be taking off anytime soon. That will do wonders for his confidence in his new team.
Green was one of the pioneers of this Golden Age. It's only right that he is given the opportunity to see it through into whatever saga may follow. Luckily for the team that had faith in him from the beginning, it won't cost them everything they have to find out.