Draymond Green has enjoyed a breakout year for the Golden State Warriors in advance of his restricted free agency this summer, and Green's rise means the Warriors will likely have to pay the luxury tax for the first time ever in order to keep him around. As of right now, Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob believes the team doesn't have "any other choice" but to pay the tax next season, according to Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News.
Green took over the starting power forward position when David Lee got injured prior to the start of the season, and the third-year man has flourished as a starter. Green's versatility on both ends of the floor has been paramount to Golden State's 37-8 start, and he's a legitimate candidate for Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player.
Green is making a measly $915,243 this season, but teams are sure to be lining up for a chance at him in restricted free agency. With Klay Thompson's near-max extension kicking in next season, the Warriors have about $77.5 million tied up in guaranteed contracts for eight players, according to BasketballInsiders.com.
It's unclear where the tax line will be for next season, but that $77.5 million will likely already be close to it, so Lacob knows paying the tax is almost inevitable:
Committed or not committed, I don't think we have any other choice. Numbers would dictate - anyone can look at them - that we're very likely in the luxury tax and very likely very substantially, next year.
And you know what? We're OK with that. I tell Bob all the time; he keeps asking me, ‘Are you sure?' We're prepared to do whatever it takes to win a championship; I've said that before.
You want to do it when the timing is right. Maybe the timing's right, right? We're pretty good. And so, I think we need to take advantage of that and go for it.
It's against league rules to talk about the contracts of specific players, but Lacob said Green was "born to be a Warrior" and called the power forward a part of the team's core. That doesn't necessarily mean he's for sure going to get re-signed, but it sounds like that's the intention.
There would be ways to potentially soften the blow if Green is back on a hefty new deal. David Lee and his $15.5 million expiring contract could be moved, as could Andre Iguodala, who still has nearly $23 million owed over the next two seasons.
What happens the remainder of this season could play a role in who returns next year, but Green is a keeper no matter what. We'll see if Lacob puts his money where his mouth is.