Draymond Green isn’t your average NBA star.
The Golden State Warriors forward is the classic player you hate if he’s not on your favorite team but adore if he is on your favorite squad.
Green is an elite defensive player, a capable scorer and a leader. But he’s also a very smart player when it comes to the team-building aspect of the sport, and his shrewd ability to look into the future at the Warriors’ salary cap picture and potential free-agent targets helped Golden State build a modern-day dynasty.
ESPN’s Chris Haynes wrote a phenomenal piece Tuesday detailing how Green taking less money with his five-year, $82 million contract in 2015 helped the Warriors have enough cap space to sign Kevin Durant in the summer of 2016, setting the stage for one of the most impactful free-agent moves in league history.
“I took less so we could go after KD,” Green told Haynes. “I am a student of this game, and I studied the business side of it and the numbers, where some people don’t. They leave it up to their agent to do it.”
Durant proved to be the piece the Warriors lacked in their 2016 NBA Finals loss. He has helped Golden State win the last two NBA Finals, both against the Cleveland Cavaliers, in a total of just nine games between the two series, with the most recent clash being a sweep.
Taking less money to build a winner long-term is not common in sports, and takes a lot of courage. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has taken less money for years, and it has helped the the franchise win five championships since 2000.
These kinds of sacrifices, especially in a league with a salary cap, often are needed to prolong success. Durant also took less money last summer so the Warriors could re-sign veteran role players Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston to new contracts, keeping intact what Dubs coach Steve Kerr calls the “core-six” of those two vets, Durant, Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
The Warriors’ roster soon will get very expensive when the luxury tax becomes burdensome. If the Warriors have long-term plans to keep this roster together, more players taking discounts could be necessary. And it wouldn’t be surprising to see that happen again based on Green’s and Durant’s actions to this point.
Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports