Three days after he announced he would be signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, former Raptors forward Danny Green is shedding some light on his free agency process.
Or better yet, how Kawhi Leonard’s free agency had impacted his own.
After leading the Raptors to their first NBA Championship in franchise history, Kawhi and Green found themselves taking their talents to L.A. — the Clippers and Lakers, respectively. But when free agency began, Raptors fans were left hanging for six long, agonizing days, awaiting Leonard’s decision and the Danny Green domino that would likely follow suit.
And sure enough, in the early hours of Saturday morning, Leonard’s announcement that he’d be joining the Clippers was quickly followed by a report that Green had agreed on a contract with the Lakers.
It was a wild morning for the NBA news cycle as Paul George also found his way to the Clippers via a mammoth trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. For six days it was radio silence on the Kawhi front, until his decision — accompanied with the subsequent Paul George trade — had significantly changed the landscape of the league.
As it turns out, Green was also in the dark with the rest of us when it came to Kawhi’s decision.
“I had no idea,” Green said of the Kawhi announcement and the George trade on the latest episode of Inside the Green Room. “See, I talked to him in between meetings, ‘Oh I just got out of this meeting.’ ‘Alright, well how did it go?’ ‘Alright, it went good.’ ‘So, are you ruling this team out? Are you ruling this team out? Because I need to know man.’ And he’s like, ‘No, they’re still up there, they had a good meeting, we have another meeting tomorrow.’
“So we’ve got to wait another day? And it seemed like forever, it’s only been five, six days really but damn. Day three you’re like, ‘Come on dude!’ Like, damn, feels like a month. But, I mean, I understand why he was waiting. I think he was waiting for both, or all three parties, to make moves — except for the Lakers — but the Clippers and Toronto, see what moves they’re going to make, what pieces they’re going to add to improve, or I guess to surround him. Especially in L.A.”
And surround him with talent, the Clippers did, but Saturday’s eventful morning was still all news to Green.
“I talked to Jerm [Jeremy Castleberry, former Raptors assistant coach], so Jerm is the one I was communicating with mostly and he’s like, ‘Nah, we can’t rule them out yet.’ And I’m just like, ‘Alright, can’t rule them out, OK, cool!’ So basically I got no information, and nobody knew — I think he didn’t know either, until he probably found out previous to him committing that the moves were being made. They probably told him, ‘Oh, this move is being made. You said you wanted to get this. We got it done, come on board.’ And he probably came on board, announced it and an hour later, not even an hour later, it was all ‘Paul George is getting traded’ and I’m like, ‘What the hell!’ I’m like, ‘That makes sense, he had to wait for that.’ But I had no inkling of where he was going or what he was doing.”
Free agency can be an interesting process for players. Take Kawhi and Green, two players who had played together for eight seasons but now found themselves in the same unrestricted free agency boat. Two players, albeit at very different levels, competing for a healthy chunk of salary cap space among the same interested teams: The Lakers and the Raptors.
It can be an awkward situation.
“It is, but I don’t think he saw it that way,” said Green about competing for cap space with Kawhi. “I don’t think he really cares, in his mind he’s making a decision for him. And same for me. If we end up on the same team again, great, you know, we’ve been playing together for eight years. I think the only time that would happen is if we came back to Toronto, which I don’t think would happen then, just because of cap space reasons. I think our time was kinda up, but I think he was just trying to find the best situation where he could win. And same for me, where we can win now. I’m getting older now, two or three years. The only reason why I kinda held off on Dallas a little bit is because it’s going to take some time. And I think L.A. probably is more in contention, more so sooner than Dallas is.
If Green was in the dark about Kawhi, it only makes sense for the rest of the Raptors roster to be out of the loop as well. Green had apparently been keeping contact with his teammates but just like Kawhi, he apparently kept his cards close to the chest. And when the dust had settled, Green’s former teammates were nothing but supportive.
“I had reached out to them [Raptors players] earlier though in the process. ‘Fellas, this is what it is, these are the teams that are interested. I don’t know if I’m going to be back in Toronto, doesn’t seem likely with the cap space and et cetera.’ So they were like, you know, ‘we support you, we’re happy for you, go do your thing, get what you gotta go get.’
“Some texted me individually, asked me what was going on. Some called, Serge called. OG was calling me every day, like, ‘Yo, you gotta tell me where you’re going.’ And I’m like, ‘Dude, I don’t know. If I did know, trust me, the world would know.’ So they were really supportive but I’m sure at some point they’ll be reaching out. I’ll probably see some of them in Vegas when I go out there tomorrow. I’ll see them throughout the summer here and there probably because they do mini camps in L.A., I’ll probably see them then as well. But we’ll probably have some fun I’m sure.”
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