As uncomfortable as it is to consider, one of the Golden State Warriors‘ top players is probably going to be traded within the next year.
The front office has worked out the financial side of the business well enough to allow the roster to remain in tact for the entirety of the 2022-23 campaign, assuming it remains in the best interests of the franchise. Even still, the Dubs put the most expensive team in NBA history on the court last season in order to win their fourth title in eight years, and Golden State will pay even more next season.
The Warriors can run it back once more but will then face tough financial realities, lest the franchise fall into a roster/luxury tax bill that could top out at over half a billion dollars — something owner Joe Lacob has said expressly Golden State will not do. That means the only real option is moving at least one of four players by next offseason.
Based on factors that include age, health, on-court production, career trajectory and eligible salary, the Warriors could realistically land on a choice that would surprise most members of Dub Nation — dealing former Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green.
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Warriors Might Say Goodbye to Green in 2023 as Best of Bad Options
Dealing Green seems next to unthinkable, and it probably would be from a front office perspective except for the fact that he has already said publicly he wants a maximum contract extension, per Anthony Slater and Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic.
Green will turn 33 next season and could theoretically sign a four-year extension this summer.
“Including this coming season, a max extension would lock in Green for $164.2 million over the next five seasons,” Slater and Thompson wrote. “He’d turn 37 years old in the final season.”
Green’s value to the organization extends far beyond traditional statistics. His two-man game with Steph Curry is legendary and is constructed on years of chemistry building, while Green remains one of the best defenders in the league. He’s also the emotional leader and engine for a Warriors team that has been to six NBA Finals and won four championships during his time there.
That said, Green averaged a modest 7.5 points per game last season to go along with 7.3 rebounds, 7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks per outing, according to Basketball Reference. He was abysmal offensively for much of the Finals against the Boston Celtics in June, with head coach Steve Kerr being forced to pull him late in games to optimize the team’s chances to win.
Furthermore, Green’s unabashed personality and his access to a microphone via his popular podcast The Draymond Green Show, makes fireworks around coming contract discussions at least possible, if not likely.
Chris Vernon of The Mismatch podcast via The Ringer floated Green as an “insane” potential trade candidate on Tuesday, August 2, in response to a mailbag question. However, as he spoke about the possibility, Vernon made an argument that began to convince even himself that maybe the prospect of a Green trade isn’t so crazy after all.
The contract stuff coming out, and it being such a thing already, where it’s like “I want the max.” They’re obviously not going to give him the max, and so that kind of like hangs over his head and it’s a thing and he’s answering questions about it and it’s annoying and he’s got the podcast to talk about it and he feels like he’s given his life to this franchise and they’re not gonna take care of him so, “I’ll look elsewhere.”
He already talked about looking elsewhere, you know what I mean? It’s already come up. They just won the title. He’s a made man. He won his four titles there already, so he’s in a different class. Maybe it’s not as crazy as I think. I said that because it seems unfathomable with their group, but that is coming up on the horizon.
Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins Also Trade Candidates in 2023
If the Warriors can reach a compromise with Green, which both sides ultimately will be highly incentivized to do, the other three players that could find themselves as trade options within the next year are Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole.
As the second member of the Warriors’ Splash Brothers duo, Thompson feels like the most unlikely trade candidate of the group by far. He remains under contract for the next two seasons and has put his voice to a desire to remain in Golden State for the entirety of his career.
Considering his relaxed personality, especially in contrast with Green’s, and that the reality that the Dubs will need to decide on both Wiggins and Poole before they deal with Thompson, the sharpshooter is a safe bet to remain with the Warriors in perpetuity.
Wiggins and Poole are the two most likely trade candidates, as the former is on the final year of his deal this season while the latter is up for a rookie extension and will hit restricted free agency next summer.
The difference in annual cost between the two will not be monumental when they each ink new deals, though even a few million here or there makes an exponential difference when factoring in the luxury tax implications for a team as far over the salary cap as the Warriors. Still, the deciding factor will probably come down to what the roster needs most versus what it can more easily replace.
Wiggins is a two-way player and an All-Star. Poole is neither of those things and was frequently played off the floor by the Celtics during the Finals. Wiggins also provided crucial help on the glass during that series, which proved paramount to the Warriors’ ultimate victory.
That said, Poole is uniquely dynamic offensive player with All-Star potential on that end of the floor. He was also drafted by the organization and is four years Wiggins’ junior, making him a more sensible fit with the likes of James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga for the long-term in Golden State.
Needless to say, the Warriors have some tough decisions on the horizon, none of which will come absent a legitimate sting whenever they are inevitably made.