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Draymond Green’s Sacrifice Will Keep the Warriors’ Title Window Open

Golden State is almost definitely getting their defensive anchor at a significant discount with this extension, and his presence on the floor is obviously of great value to the Warriors’ success.

The Warriors will not let their dynasty end quietly. Golden State and Draymond Green agreed to a four-year, $100 million extension Saturday, his agent Rich Paul told ESPN. Green and Klay Thompson are now both signed through 2024, while guards Stephen Curry and D’Angelo Russell are signed through 2022 and 2023, respectively. Despite losing Kevin Durant this summer, the Warriors will still have four All-Stars on the roster this upcoming season, and most importantly, they’ve locked in the Curry, Thompson, and Green trio for the foreseeable future. 

It’s easy to see why the Green extension makes sense from a management perspective. Draymond would have been eligible for a max contract as a free agent next summer. In a less-than-stellar market, Green possibly could have commanded a nearly $151 million contract from another team (or tried to negotiate a five-year, full max deal with the Warriors.) Golden State is almost definitely getting Green at a significant discount with this extension, and his presence on the floor is obviously of great value to the Warriors’ success.

Green is making a financial sacrifice here, but a calculated one. What if no one offered him the max next summer and the Warriors could negotiate him to an even lower number? While Draymond is a key cog to Golden State’s success, there are some questions as to how his skills would translate to a team with a less star-laden roster. Despite the blowups and the near-constant tension, on the court, the Warriors and Green are a harmonious marriage. His defensive prowess and unselfishness take the team to another level, while the gravity of Curry and Thompson help mitigate Green’s flaws. Draymond and Golden State are perhaps the best example of mutualism in the basketball world, and both sides should be happy their relationship will continue.

Long term, even as the rest of the conference loads up, the Warriors should not be taken lightly as long as Curry, Thompson, and Green are teammates. Golden State was still very close to winning a championship without Durant last season, and the Dubs maybe could have pulled off the improbable if Klay never tore his ACL. While next season could be a step back, the Warriors’ future is still promising. Curry is still very much one of the most impactful players in the league. Klay could be healthy by the start of the 2020 playoffs. And keeping Green around gives the Dubs a chance at rebuilding a third version of the Death Lineup the league never fully figured out. (There’s also something to be said about continuity amongst legit stars in an era in which the NBA’s best players are team hopping like never before.)

The days of Golden State being the runaway championship favorite are almost certainly long gone. But they are still very much a threat. Green’s extension also probably reinforces the idea of Russell as a trade chip. Golden State would be on the hook for $129 million in salary for four players in 2021 if they keep Russell beyond this season—or they can try to flip him for multiple pieces to buttress their star trio with depth. A team of Curry, Thompson, Green, Kevon Looney, and a couple three-and-D guys would still be very formidable in the West, even with new superstar duos popping up everywhere else.

Green’s extension doesn’t change Golden State’s immediate outlook. Next season is probably going to be a slog, and Curry is likely going to have to put up some huge scoring nights to keep the team competitive. But short-term struggles shouldn’t cloud what is still a very promising post-Durant core. The Warriors still have two of the best shooters ever, have now locked up one of the best defensive players ever at a discount, and have some flexibility to tweak the roster around those players. 

Although the Dubs have come back closer to the rest of the pack—and have realistically been overtaken by other teams—Golden State can still be a title contender in the changing NBA landscape. Watching how Green’s game ages as he approaches his mid-30s will be fascinating to watch. But that’s a risk teams like the Lakers and Clippers will be facing themselves. As long as Green, Curry, and Thompson are making each other better, the Warriors will be in the championship mix.