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Trade Candidate Series: Could the Clippers make a run at acquiring Draymond Green?

With him wanting a max extension, could Draymond Green find his way to the Clippers?

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NBA: NOV 28 Warriors at Clippers Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to the first installment of the “Trade Candidate Series,” a modest look at several potential trade candidates that the LA Clippers could take a run at in the next couple weeks should things break juuuuuuuuuust right for them.

To be eligible for this series, players have to meet a few key criteria:

  1. They have to be extension eligible.
  2. An extension with their current team has to seem somewhat iffy.
  3. The player in question has to fit the Clippers’ championship window.

With that said, let’s kick it off with the very first player in the series.

There was talk late last week from Anthony Slater and Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic that the Golden State Warriors presently “have no plans” to slide a maximum extension Draymond Green’s way, which makes him the ideal intriguing player to kickstart this series.

Or, better yet, as Slater and Thompson put it (emphasis mine):

All indications, though, are that the Warriors have no plans to offer Green a maximum extension, and there isn’t any current traction on any type of extension. The typical pattern of this Golden State front office is to extend with one year remaining. Even Stephen Curry waited until one year remained before signing his max extension last offseason. Green has two years remaining on the maximum extension he signed in 2019. While he could opt out a year earlier, the Warriors’ current preference is to talk extension with Green next summer.

The question becomes how does Green respond. No one wants an unhappy Green in the locker room. He is the team’s biggest voice. His presence is felt unlike any other player — when he’s fired up, when he’s angry, when he’s frustrated, when he’s contrite. How would he handle being told no extension after his stellar defense anchored an improbable run to another championship?

Well, according to both Slater and Thompson, it appears that Green is poised to “handle” this situation in a way that, well, only Draymond Green can. And that’s by potentially requesting a trade (emphasis mine):

While his desire is to remain with the Warriors, Green is said to be willing to explore his outside options to get the kind of contract he wants. That’s a risk Warriors’ management appears willing to take.

Green presents the Clippers with a fascinating option. He’s slated to make $25.8 million in 2022-23 and possesses a player option for the 2023-24 season that’s worth $27.6 million. A maximum contract extension of four-years, $138.7 million effectively would make him a free agent when he’s 37. That’s an extremely hefty commitment to a player, but is it one the Clippers would feel comfortable with?

After all, he has declined as a player, even if it’s not so noticeable on the defensive end at times. And, by acquiring him, the Clippers would be bringing aboard a 32-year-old that, while still very good, is entering the twilight of his career and will be getting handsomely rewarded for his past accomplishments.

It’s obviously hard to say what the Clippers would think about it, but the idea is tantalizing. Adding Green alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George would create one of the greatest defensive trios we’ve ever seen in basketball. It’d come at a high cost, but maybe it’s one that the Clippers would find to be worth it.

Should the Warriors and Green be far apart in negotiations by the time Green’s extension date opens up, which is Aug. 3, then maybe the Clippers think they can swoop in, offer some players and picks and hope to pique Golden State’s interest enough to swing a deal.

It should be noted that these two teams are projected to be the top luxury tax teams in the league for this upcoming season. The NBA recently fined Warriors’ owner Joe Lacob $500,000 for his comments about the league’s “very unfair” luxury tax system. If Lacob is starting to feel the pain of repeatedly dipping into the luxury tax then there could be a chance — albeit a small one — that he’s looking for a way to ease that burden.

What would it take to get Draymond Green to head roughly 400 miles south? Any deal for Green likely involves both Marcus Morris Sr. and Luke Kennard going to The Bay. Potentially even Terance Mann, who signed a modest extension last season and is now trade eligible, or Brandon Boston Jr., as well. Maybe a pick? Depends on what the Warriors want and what the Clippers feel is worth giving up to boost their championship odds this coming season.

But there remain two major hurdles in this scenario. Well, three actually.

  1. Why would the Warriors ship Green to a division (and championship) rival?
  2. Why would the Warriors want to upset the Stephen Curry apple cart?
  3. Would the Clippers feel comfortable cuffing themselves to Green until he’s 37?

While Green does nail the prerequisite of fitting into the Clippers’ championship window, the price that the team would pay — not only in players and picks, but also in actual money they’d have to give him to get him onboard — might be a bridge too far.

And, as far as the Warriors are concerned, it’s hard to see them appeasing Green — should he put the Clippers on his list of preferred trade destinations — and sending him to a rival that they have to see four times a year in the regular season and potentially even more in the postseason. Then there’s the whole Stephen Curry factor.

The Warriors are fresh off a title. It doesn’t seem plausible that they’d nuke the vibes they presently have by dealing Green and rock the boat with Curry and Klay Thompson in the process. That trio seems there to stay.

All those factors combined together make Draymond Green and the Clippers a marriage that only appears in long-forgotten daydreams.

And let’s not forget the fun fact between the Clippers and Warriors:

The two teams have not engaged in a trade with one another since Feb. 22, 1990. That was the day the Clippers traded two second round picks to the Warriors in exchange for Winston Garland. The most notable part about that trade was that one of the second round picks turned into Kevin Pritchard, the current president of basketball operations for the Indiana Pacers.

So, yeah, it’s been a while. Don’t expect that to change, either.

You can find Justin Russo’s daily content on the LA Clippers by subscribing to his Patreon feed, and you can also follow him on Twitter at @FlyByKnite.