The message has been consistent: Draymond Green is opting out of his contract, but he and the Golden State Warriors are going to work out a new deal. There is no way that Green would consider leaving Stephen Curry to sign with another team. Right?
Returning to the Warriors still seems like the most likely option, but the hard facts of the situation are that Draymond Green is an unrestricted free agent and that a number of teams have a need for an All-Defense player and enough cap space to potentially sign him. That has to raise at least a quiet alarm.
The Golden State Warriors rival who is clearing cap space
The Dallas Mavericks then cranked the volume during the NBA Draft, making a shrewd move to trade back two spots. By swapping the No. 10 pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder and getting the No. 12 pick in return, the Mavericks were able to dump the entire salary of Davis Bertans.
Did that mean they were going to be making a run at a free agent like Draymond Green? It certainly seemed that way, as they had a pathway to dividing $56 million or so in cap space between Green and Kyrie Irving. The connection between Green and Dallas had been remarked upon often in recent weeks. It still seemed unlikely, as Green, Irving or both would need to take a pay cut, but it at least was enough to be worrisome.
That possibility was snuffed out just an hour later, however, when the Mavericks turned around and used their newly-minted trade exception to trade for Sacramento Kings center Richaun Holmes, receiving the No. 24 pick in the draft to take on his contract. Dallas used the 10th pick to create some breathing room, but primarily they used it to get another first-round pick and take a shot at a starting center.
But just as the Mavericks faded from view as a potential Draymond Green destination, another team took their place.
Wait, could the Kings be making a run at Draymond?
By getting off of Richaun Holmes’ contract entirely, the Kings could now open up as much as $38 million in cap space. They might just be trying to negotiate-and-extend Domantas Sabonis’ contract while still bringing back Harrison Barnes, Trey Lyles and Terence Davis. Yet to be giving up a first-round pick, it’s much more likely their sights are set on something bigger.
Perhaps that is Portland’s Jerami Grant, or Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton. Yet the most interesting possibility is also the most terrifying for the Warriors: what if the Kings are trying to sign Draymond Green?
They have a significant need for an All-Defense player, and Green would slot in at the 4 and be a swiss army knife to defend anyone the Kings were facing. His passing would be an elite weapon in the Kings’ motion scheme. The spacing fit with Sabonis wouldn’t be ideal, but the Warriors managed to thrive by putting elite shooting around Draymond and a traditional center for years; the Kings can do that too with Kevin Huerter and Keegan Murray on the wing.
The Kings can offer Green a lot of money, something the Warriors will be loath to do with their luxury tax and second apron issues. They also can promise a reunion with former Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown, now the head coach in Sacramento, and keep Draymond close to Los Angeles to continue stoking his budding media career.
The Kings have threatened to sign a player away from the Warriors in the past, famously helping Andre Iguodala secure a larger contract in 2017 and signing Carl Landry back in 2013. Could there be another Interstate-80 connection to be made?
All reports continue to be that Green and the Warriors expect to work out a deal, especially after the Warriors traded for Chris Paul. The Kings and other teams will certainly take their shot, and their draft-night trade put them in a position to make a serious run at signing Green if he’s willing to listen.