Lakers Could Steal Warriors Star Thanks to LeBron James, Says Exec

LeBron James (right) and Draymond Green

Getty LeBron James (right) and Draymond Green

He will be 33 in March and thus, perhaps, not quite what the future-thinking Lakers are looking for on the 2023 NBA free-agent market. But there’s a line of thinking around the NBA suggesting that Warriors forward Draymond Green, if he winds up seeking a break from Golden State, could land in Los Angeles with LeBron James, his longtime friend.

On the court, Green has plenty of reason to want to stay put with the defending champion Warriors, the only franchise he’s known in his 10 NBA seasons. Sticking with Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, as one of the most successful trios in league history, is a strong incentive.

But the Warriors have hard financial decisions ahead, with Green possibly being a free agent next summer along with Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins. If the Warriors want Green to take a discount, it could set up his exodus from the Bay Area.

And set up a union with James and fellow Klutch Sports client Anthony Davis in L.A. Green, remember, was among the first to link up with Klutch back in 2019, when the company’s roster was still relatively limited.

“He’s developed a strong relationship with LeBron and a lot of that started, in the beginning, with what has happened with Klutch, with players being more empowered, so there seems to be a genuine respect there, both ways, LeBron and Draymond, on and off the floor,” one league source told Heavy Sports. “If Draymond is really a free agent, if he really is looking at going somewhere else, that would have to be a factor.”

Draymond Green’s Potential Fit With the Lakers

It would not be a perfect match if Green were to consider going to the Lakers. L.A. wants to use its free-agent sway in either 2023 or 2024 to set up its post-James future, a star player to pair with Davis. Green, for his part, probably would like to play for a team that is on a more upward swing as a contender in the league.

But if the Lakers can sign Green at a reasonable price, putting him on the floor with Davis and James has considerable appeal from a basketball perspective. A frontcourt of James, Green and Davis has considerable size and defensive IQ, and the Lakers would be switchable across the board. Green is an excellent passer, though he struggles as a 3-point shooter, shooting below 30% from the arc in each of his last four seasons.

They’d be advanced in age but would be able to run out the kind of defense that is capable of making the Lakers a contender.

There’s another motivation for Green, too. He is angling for a post-retirement career in entertainment. He’s already shown his wares as an analyst and podcaster, but he has an interest in production as well. That can be done from anywhere, but there is a networking advantage to being in Los Angeles, the world’s entertainment capital.

“He is Klutch,” one Western Conference executive told Heavy Sports. “You know he loves being on the barbershop show with LeBron. He wants to have an entertainment career when he is done playing. You don’t need to be in L.A. for that but it helps.”

How Much Should Green Be Paid?

There is some question around the league about what kind of contract Green would command in free agency next summer. He is slated to be paid $25 million for this season and has a player option on a final year worth $27 million in 2023-24.

Green posts pretty pedestrian numbers in terms of his frontline stats—7.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists—but his leadership and defensive presence show up in his advanced numbers, as he had a net rating of 7.2 last season. The Warriors allowed 102.8 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor and 106.6 points per 100 possessions with him off the floor.

Most telling was the Warriors’ record when Green played (34-12) vs. when he did not (19-17).

“It’s not easy to put a value on that,” the West exec said. “He fits what the Warriors do but is he going to fit what the Lakers or anyone else do? Can you pay him $27 million, $30 million a year if you’re another team and you don’t know how he is going to work on your team? And if you’re the Warriors, do they pay him for what his value is to your team or what his value is on the market?”

It’s hard to say how it will play out with Green—most likely, he will wind up back with the Warriors again. But if he does look around during the summer of 2023, his connection with James figures to be a factor in his free agency.

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