The below has been excerpted from this week's Outlet Pass, to get caught up on everything else you need to know in the NBA this week read the rest of the column here.
In the aftermath of a verbal dispute between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green that still may turn into something more and has already yielded one suspension while puncturing Golden State’s aura of invincibility, all eyes are on Durant’s free agency. Is this the pivotable moment that will push him out the door, onward to New York City or Los Angeles or whichever city will next be blessed by his inextinguishable knack for introducing a basketball to the inside of a rim?
Speculation in this case is a tad premature, but the stakes are high enough to allow it. (A dynasty hangs in the balance!) Even though we haven’t reached Thanksgiving, it always felt like Golden State needed to have a hand in its own demise; they’re too talented to be done in by a superior opponent. There’s still time for cooler heads to prevail—Steph Curry's health-related on-court absence from the equation shouldn’t go unnoticed—but the entire situation allows another question to creep into the periphery: What is Draymond’s trade value?
This isn’t to say Golden State should or will trade the perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate just to appease the unappeasable Durant. But it’s worth wondering what they could get, or would even want, in return. And outside the Bay Area’s cushy confines, where he’s ascended alongside the two greatest shooters who ever lived, what would Draymond even look in another team’s jersey?
Green will make $17.4 million this year and $18.5 million in 2019-20 before he becomes a 30-year-old unrestricted free agent. He never was a traditional All-Star, someone who can roll out of bed every morning with 20 points in their back pocket. Green’s value is instead very real and very specific to everything that makes Golden State so free and spacious. It’s not fair to ask if the Detroit Pistons would be better with Green instead of Blake Griffin, but the answer to that question is “no,” even though most league observers probably think Draymond’s overall on-court impact is more beneficial.
Even though he’s a three-time All-Star in his prime with nearly two years left on his deal, Green couldn’t fetch what the Cleveland Cavaliers received for Kyrie Irving or the Chicago Bulls got for Jimmy Butler. A lottery pick feels out of the question. But how do you weigh a key ingredient for the greatest team ever beside the temper that may be responsible for said team’s downfall? He’s one of four players averaging at least seven points, seven assists, and seven rebounds right now (the other three are Russell Westbrook, Ben Simmons, and LeBron James), but is also shooting 24 percent from deep with the fourth-worst turnover rate in the league.
Every dynasty that intends to stay on top must eventually alter its fundamental makeup on the fly. Having signed Durant, the Warriors (and Green!) know this better than anyone else. But their decision to publicly embarrass a franchise icon the way they did could reverberate in a way they couldn’t see, despite existing light years ahead of the competition.
What if Durant, suddenly emboldened by the call to reprimand Draymond, tells Bob Myers that he doesn’t want to leave. That he’s willing to re-sign long-term so long as Green is gone. And when does Green’s next contract complicate matters to the point where the fear of losing him for nothing/locking him up on an expensive, untradeable deal becomes too much? What are some hypothetical trades that make sense? Do they exist? I’m honestly not sure. Most teams that are in the time of their life cycle to have interest in Green can’t give the Warriors what they’d want in return, or have the type of salaries on their books to make it work (i.e. the Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, Washington Wizards, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, and Houston Rockets).
But here are a few that, while flawed (repeat: these are flawed and mostly unrealistic because Draymond’s monetary value and skill-set are not easy to trade!) are fun enough to wonder about:
Portland Trail Blazers get: Draymond Green
Golden State Warriors get: Zach Collins, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Moe Harkless
How much more enjoyable will the NBA playoffs be if this trade happens? Golden State (possibly) sustains its standing in the short-term while looking towards the future with a cost-controlled blue chipper who can pass, shoot, and protect the basket. Portland ostensibly lands the missing piece it needs to make a legitimate playoff run without breaking up its backcourt duo.
Miami Heat get: Draymond Green
Golden State Warriors get: Kelly Olynyk and Justise Winslow
There’s no logical rationale behind this trade. I just want to see Draymond mixed with Heat culture.
Sacramento Kings get: Draymond Green
Golden State Warriors get: Marvin Bagley III, Bogdan Bogdanovic
Obviously terrible for Sacramento but this organization feels due for an obviously terrible move. Bagley III may not ever be good, but it’s so rare for a team as great as the Warriors to add a prospect with that much potential. It makes them significantly worse for the rest of this season, but would it cost them the title? At the very least, Golden State could turn around and use Bagley III as a trade chip to add more immediate help.
Brooklyn Nets gets: Draymond Green
Golden State Warriors get: Spencer Dinwiddie and DeMarre Carroll
For an organization that may not want to sit around and test free agency, this is one way to spice up their relevance while selling high on a talented guard whose skill-set overlaps with D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert. LeVert’s injury stalled Brooklyn’s metamorphosis into a frisky playoff team this season, but next year, with LeVert, Green, Jarrett Allen, and a lottery pick? They wouldn’t be bad!
Utah Jazz get: Draymond Green
Golden State Warriors get: Jae Crowder, Grayson Allen, and Thabo Sefolosha
A decent rookie plus a serviceable small-ball four plus a veteran who doesn’t really play anymore? That sounds like a reasonable package. Of course, sending Green to a team that has Golden State in its crosshairs probably isn’t realistic. (That goes for Portland, too.) Either way, just imagine a frontcourt that pairs the last two Defensive Players of the Year, while solving Utah’s long-standing issue that is Gobert at the five in crunchtime of a critical playoff game. The Jazz slice into their cap space and shouldn’t feel confident about retaining Green once he hits unrestricted free agency in 2020, but until then they would be the league’s most intriguing title contender. The Warriors save money and get better (?) on offense.