SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Golden State Warriors want to keep Draymond Green, yet the team is prepared for him to formally decline his $27.5 million player option for the final year of his contract next season and become an unrestricted free agent seeking a long-term deal.
The Athletic reported Monday that Green would opt out. Green, who said in April he wants to retire with Golden State, would have to notify the Warriors of his decision by June 30.
“I saw the report, too. Until we get the paperwork and the filing we can’t really comment or say much,” new general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. said Monday at his introductory news conference. “I will say it, I think Steve (Kerr) has said it, I’ll reiterate, we really want Draymond back. What he means to this organization and this team in terms of trying to win at the highest level, we feel like we have to have him. So that’s very important.”
Kerr has applauded Green’s fiery, emotional play. The season began with Green punching Jordan Poole at practice during training camp then taking a brief leave of absence from the team.
This spring, Green served a one-game suspension during the Warriors’ 114-97 Game 3 victory in the first round of the playoffs that Golden State won in seven games. He vowed afterward not to change.
“Draymond won’t be moved by no Draymond rules,” he said. “I will continue to play the game how I play the game, operate how I operate, be exactly who I am, because that leads to winning.”
In the fourth quarter of the Kings’ 114-106 Game 2 win, Green stepped on the chest of Sacramento center Domantas Sabonis after Stephen Curry grabbed a defensive rebound.
In 2016, Green was suspended for a crucial Game 5 loss to LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals after accumulating too many flagrant fouls in the playoffs that season. The Warriors wound up losing in seven.
Dunleavy and owner Joe Lacob know there’s much to do better this summer with the expectations that the Warriors will contend for another championship next season.
And, they hope, with Green a part of that core of players along with Curry and Klay Thompson that has won four titles together.
“Look, he’s been a spectacular player for us. We would not have these championships without his involvement, no question,” Lacob said of Green.
“I think everyone understands that in this room. He’s meant a lot to this franchise. He’s a bit of a controversial player perhaps in some corners around the league, certain things that have happened over the years. He knows that. We know that. But the good overwhelms the bad is what I would say.
“... He’s meant a lot. I think if he does come back that he will be very important to our success certainly going forward in the next few years.”
Dunleavy, promoted from assistant GM to replace Bob Myers, is optimistic of keeping the roster together — Poole and the younger players, too.
Curry, Green and Thompson are still competing at an elite level.
“That’s our hope. We love those guys and value them. I think there is a way to do it. That’s something we’ll have to work through. It certainly is possible,” Dunleavy said. “The big thing is those guys are still playing at a high level. Steph conservatively is one of the top five players in the league. Draymond just had an incredible year. Essentially first team all defense. We’re biased. One of the premiere defenders in the league. Klay has really returned well from his Achilles injury and his knee. Those guys are playing well at an older age.”