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Report: Draymond Green won’t take discount for Warriors, eying super-max contract

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How much longer will the Warriors remain elite?

It’s a luxury-tax question as much as anything.

Stephen Curry unwittingly took a massive discount on his rookie-scale extension, signed when his ankle injuries were more prominent. He said he offered to take another one last season, but for some reason, Golden State turned him down.

Kevin Durant took a discount, larger than the one necessary for the Warriors to re-sign Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, last summer. Durant doesn’t sound eager to take another one.

Klay Thompson already discussed a contract extension that would save Golden State 10s of millions of dollars. His dad sounds more cautious about that, though.

And what about Draymond Green? He’s locked up for two more seasons, so nothing is urgent. But he’ll be eligible this offseason for a three-year, $72,080,137 contract extension ($24,026,712 annually).

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

According to league sources, Green will turn the extension down when it’s offered. That’s because if he earns MVP, Defensive Player of the Year or All-NBA Team honors next season, he will be eligible for a super-max contract

Sources say Green is not expected to take a pay cut on the next go-around.

The salary cap is currently $99,093,000. It’s projected to be $101 million next season and $108 million the following season. What will it be in 2020-21, when Green’s new deal would kick in? Tough to forecast that far out, but I’ll use an estimate of $111 million.

If Green wins Defensive Player or makes an All-NBA team next season – quite plausible, considering he’s arguably the NBA’s best defender – he’d be eligible for a super-max extension projected to be worth about $225 million over five years (about $45 million annually).

Failing that, he could play out the final year of his current contract and try again to to win Defensive Player of the Year or make an All-NBA team in 2019-20. If he does, he’d be eligible to re-sign with the Warriors for that exact same amount – a projected $225 million over five years (about $45 million annually).

Even if Green completes his current contract without meeting the designated-player criteria, he could re-sign with Golden State in 2020 for a projected $193 million over five years (about $39 million annually). Or he could sign with another team for a projected $143 million over four years (about $36 million annually).

All those amounts tower over his largest possible contract extension this offseason.

However, Green will be 30 when his current contract expires. Teams, including the Warriors, might not rush to max him out at that point. Even if he becomes eligible for a super-max deal, Golden State might not deem him worth it.

Still, locking into just $72,080,137 over three years this offseason is probably selling himself short. There’s plenty of room for Green to command more than that and less than his max.

So, expect this saga to continue beyond this summer.

How thorny it gets remains unknown, but Green’s 2015 free agency could be instructive. Green seemed like a candidate for a max contract, and in hindsight, would’ve been well worth it. Talks between him and Golden State broke down the first day of free agency. By that night, he agreed to a lucrative – but sub-max – five-year contract.

Green didn’t want to get shortchanged, but he didn’t push the Warriors as hard as he could’ve, either.

Deandre Ayton misses coronavirus test, arrives late to underway Suns-Thunder game

Suns center Deandre Ayton
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Another testing issue for Deandre Ayton.

This one comes at a terrible time for the Suns.

Phoenix is trying to complete a longshot run to the playoffs and playing the Thunder in a key game today. But Ayton arrived late to the arena after missing a coronavirus test yesterday.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Like many Suns, Ayton has played well in the resumption. Phoenix doesn’t have another big-man option like him, especially with Aron Baynes sidelined. The Suns started Dario Saric in a small lineup today.

Ayton arrived to the arena and is warming up on an exercise bike. He could still get into the game and make a difference.

Already locked into the 4-6 range in the Western Conference and perhaps trying to keep its top-20-protected first-round pick, Oklahoma City is playing without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams, Nerlens Noel and Dennis Schroder. None of those will players will make a late entrance into the game.

Also: It’s ridiculous this wasn’t publicly disclosed sooner. The NBA continues to tout transparency while trying to draw more gambling revenue. Yet, a major lineup issue like this remains secret? That opens the door for some bettors to get inside information, which would be so damaging to the league’s integrity.

Kings now sole owners of second-longest playoff drought in NBA history

Sacramento Kings
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The Kings’ 2018-19 season ended with optimism.

Facing a meager over/under of 25.5 wins, Sacramento surged to 39 wins – its best record in 13 years. Under Dave Joerger, the Kings played a fast and fun style. De'Aaron Fox made historic improvements. Buddy Hield broke out. Several other young players showed promise.

Sure, the Kings missed the playoffs for a 13th straight season – matching the second-longest playoff drought in NBA history. But they were on track to end the skid soon enough.

Except, of course that’s not how it went in Sacramento.

The Kings were eliminated from the postseason chase yesterday, ensuring a 14th straight season outside the playoffs. That alone is now NBA’s the second-longest-ever postseason drought, breaking a tie with the Timberwolves (2005-17). Only the Buffalo Braves/San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers’ 15-year non-playoff streak (1977-91) is longer.

Here are the longest postseason droughts in NBA history:

The Suns could still reach 10 straight years outside the playoffs, but they’re still in the race this season.

The Kings might not be far from climbing this list, either.

Their future looks far bleaker than a year ago. Sacramento fired Joerger to hire Luke Walton, who has underwhelmed. Buddy Hield signed a lucrative contract extension then had a rough season. Fox progressed, though he didn’t make the desired leap into stardom. Other young players had ups and downs. Luka Doncic casts an even larger shadow from Dallas. The Kings’ organizational turmoil continues.

This was a feel-bad season in Sacramento, anyway. All the preceding losing only adds to the misery.

The Kings enter next season with one last chance to avoid the longest playoff drought in NBA history, and they do have a chance. But there’s only pessimism now.

Damian Lillard throws pass away from basket, off Tobias Harris, into hoop (video)

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Damian Lillard was making everything yesterday.

EVERYTHING.

Lillard, who scored 51 points in the Trail Blazers’ win over the 76ers, even got a bucket on this wild pass off Tobias Harris.

Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good. It’s even better to be both.

LeBron James admits he’s still adjusting to playing without fans

LeBron James
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LeBron James has played to overflowing gyms and arenas since he was a sophomore in high school. There is always a crowd around him to watch him play. Or a massive crowd of reporters around him after the game. Or throngs of fans when he travels through China on a shoe tour. LeBron has always packed the house.

Until now. There are no crowds, no fans at the NBA’s restart at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. It’s now games in a stripped-down, made-for-television gym. And LeBron admitted to reporters after the latest Lakers’ loss he is still adjusting. Via Mark Medina of the USA Today.

“I am getting more and more used to being out there. It’s a very weird dynamic. I haven’t played in an empty gym in a very, very long time,” James said following the Lakers’ 116-111 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. “It’s been a very long time since no one has been watching me play the game. I’m just trying to find that rhythm and lock in…

“I’m getting more and more comfortable playing in an empty gym,” James said. “Just having the backdrop here is a lot different from playing in a high school gym or a college arena where you’re playing in the summer time, whatever the case may be. It’s very dark, extremely dark. You can literally hear a feather hit the ground. I’m just getting more and more comfortable playing with my game here in the bubble.”

LeBron has still been very good in the bubble — 21.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 6.4 assists a game — but he has not been quite the otherworldly, MVP candidate level player he was before the shutdown. His true shooting percentage of 51.9 at the restart is down from 57.7 before the break (and it has been below the league average since the restart). The Laker offense overall has scored less than a point per possession in the bubble and has been the worst offense in Orlando (leading to a 2-4 record so far). It’s not all LeBron, the Lakers as a team have struggled to get their pre-hiatus traction back, the chemistry is not quite right. But we know who leads this team.

LeBron and company also know they need to find that rhythm soon. They will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed and face and eight seed — likely Portland or Memphis — that had to battle its way into the postseason. That team, whoever it is, will come in battle-tested and motivated.

The fans will not be there to pick up LeBron and the Lakers.

“I definitely love playing in front of the fans. The fans are what make the game,” James said. “Without the fans, I wouldn’t be who I am today. To all the fans out there that come watch me play, I miss you guys and hopefully someday I can get back to that interaction.”

Someday we all hope for that.

In the short term, LeBron and the Lakers need to find their groove in a fanless world.