Golden State's title defense can officially begin now.
Restricted free agent forward Draymond Greenhas agreed to re-sign with the Warriors on a five-year contract worth $85 million, according to multiple reports. The deal, which kicks in for the 2015-16 season and runs through 2019-20, does not include any player or team options.
"I'm ecstatic," Green said in a video message posted to BleacherReport.com. "I'm proud to say I'll be a Warrior for at least the next five years. It's been a long journey to get to this point. ... Staying with the Warriors was very, very important to me, coming off a championship. And we think we can win a lot more championships."
Green, 25, averaged a career-high 11.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.6 and 1.3 blocks last season, his first as a full-time starter. The 2012 second-round pick earned All-Defensive recognition while establishing himself as one of the most valuable all-around contributors in the league. Green was one of just six players to average at least a steal and a block per game, and his ability to play either power forward or center in small lineups was a key to the Warriors' versatility. SI.com ranked Green at No. 5 on our "Top 25 Free Agents of 2015" list.
Often cited by teammates and coaches as the heart and soul of Golden State's roster, the brash Green made a monster impact when he took the court for the 67-win Warriors. Green's Real Plus-Minus of +6.85 ranked No. 8 in the league, his +16.5 net rating ranked third in the NBA among qualified players, and he was a key member of a Warriors starting lineup that boasted a +19.6 net rating while also playing center in a smaller look that posted a +21.9 net rating. The Defensive Player of the Year runner-up ranked No. 2 overall in Defensive Real-Plus Minus, No. 4 in Defensive Rating, and No. 2 in Defensive Win Shares. For those who don't enjoy wading neck deep in advanced statistics, the takeaway is simple: only MVP Stephen Curry was more important to Golden State's success than Green.
This negotiation was never going to produce real drama for two reasons: 1) Golden State's savvy front office understood better than anyone how Green's impact went beyond his per-game production, and 2) Green was a restricted free agent and worth every penny the Warriors could pay him. In the end, he took a deal for slightly less than the max, a minor sacrifice that will help owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber save a little on their luxury tax bill. If there's any knock on this agreement from the team side, it's that Green's sacrifice is more of the nominal variety, rather than a steeper give-back many Spurs players have made in recent years. Considering Green played for less than $1 million in each of his first three NBA seasons, he had every reason to use this deal to make himself whole.
Indeed, this contract's $17 million average annual value is a steep, steep, steep increase over the $880,000 average value of Green's first NBA deal. In all likelihood, such a major pay raise will require Golden State to dump David Lee's $15.5 million expiring contract this off-season. First, Green claimed Lee's starting job, and now he's effectively claiming his salary slot.
Warriors GM Bob Myers, coach Steve Kerr and the rest of the organization will celebrate this move. Without question, taking care of Green was Golden State's top order of business this off-season. Now, the Warriors are in position to defend their title with their top eight players (by minutes logged) already under contract. What's more, Golden State's core group of Curry, Green, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes is all 26 and younger, meaning that the Warriors could plausibly be in the contention conversation for the full duration of Green's new deal. But, of course, one step at a time.