The last couple of weeks are likely to have major ramifications for the Warriors’ long-term future.
First there was the Draymond Green punch of Jordan Poole, one that led to him being away from the team for a handful of days and public outrage after the video was released. That was followed by this weekend’s news that both Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins would be signing lucrative extensions, something that will set Golden State up for a near $500 million tax bill next season, a figure owner Joe Lacob is on the record saying he can’t afford.
So what does that mean for Green? Reporter Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle believes Draymond’s days are numbered.
“The know that this is probably not a long-term situation, there have been lines crossed that are probably irreparable, but you can just keep things cordial enough to get what you need out of the rest of the relationship,” Letourneau said on KNBR Monday. “I think that’s where they’re at. I think Draymond will not be on this team that much longer. I think that those extensions of Wiggins and Poole made that abundantly clear and right now it’s like ‘Let’s just win a title. Let’s just win a title, be professional.’
“There are financial realities that are just impossible to ignore. The only way the Warriors can get their payroll down to a manageable number next season is to part ways with Draymond…It’s probably going to be a situation where they’ll get through this season, there should be more teams with salary cap available next summer and then you just look at the market and you try to unload his contract to a team with salary cap space.”
Letourneau seems to believe that a trade next offseason is in the cards. The question is, where to?
“The most logical team I think would probably be Detroit. Obviously a home town team for Draymond, but they need a power forward, they’re going to be a team that has salary cap space, they’re going to be a team that probably is going to be on the edge of being a playoff team at that point. Maybe they look at Draymond as kind of the missing piece to get over that threshold.”
There still remains a possibility that Draymond could stay on if everything goes perfectly this season, but he would have to be willing to take a significant pay cut like Wiggins just did with his extension.
“Another option here, if everything goes right this season, if they win the title and Draymond is an important part of that and they can start to move past a lot of the drama that’s unfolded, maybe they can work out a deal where he opts out of his player option, instead of that they work out a 3-year deal for $60 million, but not all that’s guaranteed. Still more money than Draymond could get elsewhere but it’s a more palatable number for the Warriors, where they could get close to that number that they want to for the overall payroll. That’s best case scenario, I think that’s unlikely though.”
Perhaps more surprising was Letourneau’s assessment of the short-term future of Klay Thompson. Thompson’s contract is also up in two seasons, and his future, not just with the Warriors, seems very much up in the air.
“The reality is that Klay does have two more years on his deal,” Letourneau continued. “I personally would not be shocked if Klay just retired from basketball at the end of that contract. I don’t think it’s going to be between this season and next season. If he does retire in the near future it would be after his contract ends. He’s had no interest or desire to talk about extensions, even though he is extension eligible right now.
“He was very open with me about how the trauma from that experience is very real. He’s been doing mediation and visualization. My big takeaway from that conversation was, just because he played well in the Finals, doesn’t mean the aftermath of that Achilles injury and those back-to-back injuries is over. He’s still got mental hurdles to overcome and we all need to realize that, and the Warriors understand that.”
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