The loudest, most versatile member of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors is not going anywhere. In news that should surprise no one, restricted free agent Draymond Green will return to the Warriors for five years at approximately $85 million. The news was first reported by Yahoo's own Marc Spears, and Sam Amick of USA Today added that the new contract is fully guaranteed with no player or team options. Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group has since updated the figures to $82 million with a starting salary of $14.26 million.
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Green celebrated the contract with a call to his mother:
Welp!!! I do it for you!!! Love my mama so much this is what I've worked my entire life to see!!! God is amazing! He's never failed me and continue to bless through it all!!! Thanks Big Fella!!!!
There was little doubt that the Warriors would retain Green, although it looked as if they might be forced to match another team's offer when negotiations broke off earlier Wednesday. After the deal was struck, Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group reported that the Warriors started negotiations at $70 million and went up as high as $75 million before the sides left the bargaining table. While the eventual figure may be higher than the franchise had hoped to go, it became nearly certain that the contract would reach these heights after players like DeMarre Carroll reached agreements near that initial offer. However, the Warriors were still able to sign him at a salary below the max by not letting him accept any offer sheets. That's probably fine with Green, who will see a roughly 1,550 percent raise over his 2014-15 salary next season and become Golden State's highest-paid player.
He is absolutely worth it, because it's difficult to overstate his importance to the Warriors. While Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson understandably get the most attention of anyone on the roster, Green is the fulcrum who makes the entire system work. The Defensive Player of the Year runner-up can guard anyone on the floor and even served as an effective center for the final three games of the NBA Finals, which were also not coincidentally wins. Alongside usual center Andrew Bogut, Green anchored the league's best defense over a full season. He's also a clear plus at the other end, serving as a playmaking power forward who pulls big men away from the paint and bullies smaller defenders when teams try to counter by going small. With Green on the floor, the Warriors are neither small nor big — they're both at once.
It's hard to put a price on someone who serves as the avatar of his team's identity and spirit, even with the Warriors now in line for a serious luxury tax hit. Green made a name for himself in the postseason for his honest, often outright cocky statements of intent, but he also backed up his words with game-changing performances. At this point, it's hard to imagine the Warriors without him.
The 25-year-old Green averaged just 31.5 minutes per game this season and figures to take on a bigger role next season and beyond, especially with the highly paid David Lee likely to leave in a salary-dumping move. While it's possible that Green will never have a season as broadly effective as 2014-15, he seems particularly well-suited for an era of the league in which versatility has become an especially valued skill. For that matter, Green has improved over each of his three seasons and seems very unlikely to get worse — his drive and intensity almost certainly won't dip simply because he's making more money. Few players are this animated only for the sake of a larger salary.
With Green's situation now set, the Warriors can look to resolve their other two offseason priorities — trading Lee to lessen their luxury tax payment and adding a reserve shooter, mostly likely via the tax payer's mid-level exception of roughly $3 million. Both processes could take some time.
Whatever transpires next, the Green contract signals that Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber will not shy away from the luxury tax in pursuit of more titles. As we learned this season, they need Green to achieve those goals. In many ways, he's a bargain at any cost.
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