The vultures haven’t circled the Bay Area for a half decade, but the Warriors injury-induced decline has returned the bargain-seeking birds to Golden State. Following the exit of Stephen Curry, who will be out for at least three months with a left hand injury, Draymond Green has entered the spotlight as a potential trade candidate. Should the Trail Blazers, who have the ammunition to put together a needle-moving trade, make a play for the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year?
Why Green Fits: Experience & Versatility
The Blazers completely re-tooled their frontcourt since the Warriors put an end to their memorable 2019 postseason run. Both Moe Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu have moved on. Leaving Portland with a talented, yet undersized, group of forwards headlined by Rodney Hood and Kent Bazemore. That changeover coincided with Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis’ transition to teams poised to compete for a trip to the Western Conference Finals. Regardless of the upside that Bazemore and Hood have shown, adding Green would provide a sturdy defensive backbone for extended playoff matchups against the players listed above.
At age 29, Green is firmly in his prime, but his lengthy postseason presence added 123 games to his odometer. That experience is a double-edged sword: the positive side is tied to his proven track record of guarding elite frontcourt players at the highest level of NBA competition. A potential three-headed lineup of Green, Bazemore and Zach Collins would have the tools and veteran experience to disrupt the best frontcourts in the league.
Offensively, Green’s outside shooting has cooled considerably since his performance in the 2015-16 season (38.8 percent). Last season, his accuracy from beyond the arc plummeted below the 30-percent threshold for the first time since his rookie campaign. While those numbers are not encouraging, inserting Green into the offense is a far cry to the return of Aminu’s trebuchet-style three-point shooting. When surrounded by sharp-shooting guards, he is reliable facilitator, consistently averaging close to seven assists per game.
Roadblocks and Red Flags
At this point, there is no actual indication that the Warriors are entertaining the idea of moving on from one of their franchise pillars. Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry will eventually return to the lineup, leaving Golden State in a position to replicate San Antonio’s quick-turnaround blueprint from over two decades ago.
Outside of the complications a quick return to contention presents, Green likely ranks behind Warriors newcomer D’Angelo Russell in players that could be moved. Russell’s place in the backcourt becomes murky once Curry and Thompson are at full strength. From his newly-signed contract to his fit on the roster, Green makes more sense for Golden State’s immediate future.
For the Blazers, there are noteworthy flags to consider when entertaining a blockbuster trade for Green. First, how will Green’s game age? The forecast for an increasingly non-shooter that relies upon positional versatility isn’t exactly sunny. If Green loses a step, his ability to exploit traditional post players with guard-like moves suddenly evaporates.
Along with concerns over his playing style, Green’s cumbersome relationship with Kevin Durant is a cautionary tale. Last season, the two stars had a heated argument during a November matchup against the Clippers. That argument escalated to Green telling Durant to leave the Warriors, resulting in a one-game team-mandated suspension. On ESPN’s First Take, Durant revealed that the incident between himself and Green factored into his decision to leave in free agency.
Kevin Durant on his relationship with Draymond Green and the incident between the two last season against the Clippers: pic.twitter.com/8xeQ4mFsfD— First Take (@FirstTake) October 31, 2019
The usual fussiness of Durant aside, Green’s often demonstrative demeanor could tax the Blazers’ Lillard-led culture.
Final Thoughts & Timeline
Until Green is clearly placed on the trade block, this is just a thought exercise that involves a Blazers organization that has the assets and atmosphere conducive to a high-profile trade. Even if he becomes available, Portland would likely have to part ways with valuable assets in order to execute a deal. Collins and Anfernee Simons would garner significant interest from the Warriors and the Blazers’ intact war chest of first round picks would be in play, a line Portland hasn’t crossed since the acquisition of Arron Afflalo.
Putting a ready-to-contend frontcourt player next to Damian Lillard in his prime is a clear avenue worth exploring, but is Green that player? Time will tell. For now, it appears that Green is a player to monitor as February approaches.
Draymond Green signed a four-year, $100 million extension in August of 2019. Due to the extension, he cannot be traded until Feb. 2, 2020. The final year of Green’s deal, set for the 2023-24 season, is a player option.