The fact that Draymond Green was suspended for a game does not necessarily signal Armageddon for the Warriors, at least not yet. But, taking such drastic action is indicative of underlying issues behind the scenes that have bubbled over to the extent that it’s reasonable to wonder about the directions this could all go. One of those potential doomsday scenarios involves trading Green. This would open a very different and potentially ugly set of worms for the Warriors. While it might make sense in the longterm to make that decision, retaining Draymond Green now is imperative to the Warriors remaining the clear title favorites in 2018-2019.
Marcus Thompson wrote a very interesting primer on the whole situation for The Athletic (subscription required but recommended), and appeared to broach that trading option:
It’s hard not to wonder how Green and Kerr, who have such a volatile history of love and hate, get through this. It must be measured how deep the crack is in Green’s allegiance to the Warriors now that Myers, who with Curry is Green’s biggest supporter in the franchise, has signed off on this stance.
Is this a referendum on Green? If so, did they just lose him — if not physically yet, spiritually? Did they just signal to him he’s the All-Star they are willing to part with, and does that quench his fire for the Warriors? What if Durant decides to leave in free agency and Green wants out? Do the Warriors make a trade to head off that potential outcome?
Given that the organization apparently sided with Kevin Durant here and given that he’s arguably the best and at worst the third or fourth best player in the world, it’s presumable that it would be Draymond traded in this circumstance. (And FWIW, Skip Bayless is advocating that the Warriors trade him now).
Durant has said he doesn’t want to be recruited for free agency, but it’s clear the Warriors are doing just that, tacitly or otherwise. There’s a reason they made a big show of his touring the construction of their new arena last week. They want him to be the star attraction of it.
ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz broke down the costs of building this palace without public funding and the creative ways the Warriors project to recoup it and likely greatly profit with corporate real estate Manifest Destiny. While the Warriors might not need Durant for these ambitions to come to fruition, retaining a player of his caliber sure wouldn’t hurt.
It’s human nature that Durant’s teammates must be sick of his fickleness and also must at times feel as though he’s lording his leverage over them. When you’ve accomplished what they have, you’d constantly wonder if it’s worth it. This hassle would not be worthwhile for 99% of the players in the league. But, as with LeBron, Durant’s non-replicable talents justify the headache.
Durant and Klay Thompson (who’s given every indication he plans to stay) are free agents after this season, while Green is a free agent after next. I don’t know if I’d wanna be on the hook for the back-end of Green’s next deal and the Warriors probably hate the idea of losing him for nothing, but trading him now would throw a wrench into Golden State’s shot at a three-peat.
Last week, with Green sitting out, the Bucks went into Golden State and slaughtered them in the paint. I know it’s just one regular season game and the Warriors have had attention lapses before but this felt different than those. They overtly missed Green’s defensive intensity, and it’s hard to envision their getting anyone in return right away who’d replicate it. I wouldn’t risk that on DeMarcus Cousins’ health, and his temperament is not without risk either.
There are worse problems to have than the Warriors’. Balancing the egos of four superstars in their prime is an issue every other team would love to have. How Steve Kerr and company continue to manage it will be fascinating to watch.