The Warriors didn’t win enough because of Draymond Green. But the Warriors can’t win enough without Draymond Green.
That’s where the team finds itself heading into an offseason where Green is widely expected to opt out of his $27.6 million contract for next season, unless the Warriors reach a deal to extend him off of it.
The defending champion Warriors were bounced from the playoffs disappointingly early by the Lakers in the second round. Green took the blame for that — not for his play in the series but punching Jordan Poole in a practice before the season, a blow that threw the Warriors organization off balance in a way they never fully recovered from. Green said to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on a second-screen stream of Game 1 between the Lakers and Nuggets that the Warriors “would still be playing” if he hadn’t thrown that punch.
UPDATE: While on Stephen A’s world, Draymond is asked if not for the punch would the Warriors still be playing. He says yes, reiterates he didn’t have his voice to start the year, also says it was hard to help Poole during his struggles (excuse baby sounds 😂) pic.twitter.com/AwQWHpKYwB
— Allen Stiles (@The_StilesFiles) May 17, 2023
That punch might have gotten Green traded off a lot of teams. That punch and the aftermath combined with the very expensive financial waters the Warriors are sailing into next season — complete with a new CBA that comes down hard on teams well over the luxury tax — would mean Green is shown the door with many franchises.
However, it was also evident this season and in the playoffs that the Warriors needed Green to win. He is still an All-Defensive Team level player who also is a gifted passer who fits perfectly in the Warriors system.
“If Draymond is not back, we’re not a championship contender,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday at his postseason press conference, via the Associated Press. “We know that. He’s that important to winning and to who we are. I absolutely want him back.”
Green has said he wants to return and chase another ring with the core of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
“He knows that he had a great season this year, from a basketball perspective, but he knows that he also compromised things by what happened back in October,” Kerr said. “So part of him coming back next year has to be about rebuilding some of that trust and respect that he’s earned here for a long period of time.
“One thing I love about Draymond is he’s always brutally honest, and he can take that sort of critique because he knows it’s the truth. I want him back. I think we all want him back.”
Green and the core are likely back, but there will be changes this summer to the Warriors, and that could start with team general manager Bob Myers. It’s going to be much easier for the Warriors to talk extension with Green (likely at a lower number than that $27.6 million option) and Thompson (also at a lower number than the max he made last contract) if Myers and his relationship with the team is back in the room.
Either way, expect Green to be back in Golden State next season. Whether they are still feeling the effects of the punch remains to be seen.