In the immediate aftermath of Draymond Green’s altercation with Jordan Poole, the Golden State Warriors expressed confidence that they could overcome the situation. No one was sugar-coating the work that would be required; for his part, head coach Steve Kerr opined that it was the “biggest crisis” the Dubs had faced since their dynasty began. But there was clearly a belief that the club could get itself back on track emotionally.
Fast-forward to now and the jury is still out on whether or not that can actually happen. In any case, Green looks to be doing what he can to be a force for good in the locker room and on the court. By all accounts, he was a key figure in the players-only meeting that sparked Friday’s win over the New York Knicks.
Even if Green continues to be a model citizen, however, there are real questions to be asked about his long-term place with the franchise.
Should team president Bob Myers and his brain trust decide that its time to move on, one league executive can envision a scenario in which the Warriors target Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons as a potential replacement.
An Upgrade Over Draymond?
Before Simmons’ move to Brooklyn, there had been rumblings that the Warriors could swing a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers to secure his services. In July of 2021, the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Keith Pompey even reported that Golden State had an offer sending the former No. 1 pick to the Bay on the table.
In the end, though, the ask was too great for the Warriors to pull the trigger.
Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney spoke with a Western Conference executive recently about the possibility that the Warriors could potentially revisit a Simmons trade. And the exec didn’t dismiss the concept as a possibility — quite the opposite, in fact.
“As much as they do not want to trade any of their young guys, the idea of bringing in Ben Simmons at age 26, that would be the kind of thing that maybe would get them to change course,” the exec told Deveney.
“He could take over the Draymond role with that team and he is a lot more athletic, a better passer and potentially as much of a defensive presence — potentially. He lacks Draymond’s fire and passion, obviously.”
The Two Teams Could Be Willing, But…
Over 11 appearances (including six starts) for the Nets this season, Simmons is averaging 6.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.0 steals per contest — a Draymond-esque line if ever there was one. And the exec believes that Golden State has the pieces to entice Brooklyn into dealing.
“Would the Nets do it? That’s the question. But if you can get [Jonathan] Kuminga and Draymond in a swap for Simmons, if you’re the Nets, that is not a bad deal,” he said.
There was also a belief that Simmons could rediscover himself with the Dubs.
“The thing about the Warriors is they look at where Andrew Wiggins is now and they think they can fix anyone. Even Simmons. It is a good environment for him to be in, with workers like Klay [Thompson] and Steph [Curry] there, it is a high bar to reach and you saw how it changed Wiggins. Maybe it’d work for Simmons, too.”
There is one hang-up where a Simmons trade is concerned. League rules forbid teams from trading for players who have signed designated rookie extensions when they already have such a player on their roster. In this case, both Wiggins and Simmons signed designated extensions with their previous clubs.
Having said that, the rule could go away when the NBA and its players renegotiate the CBA over the summer (assuming one of the sides exercises its opt-out before December 15, otherwise we’re looking at summer 2024). Or, the Warriors could simply opt to send Wiggins out in the trade, either to the Nets or a third party.
Whether such a move would actually be enough to keep the team in the title picture is a matter for debate, though.