By most tallies, the San Antonio Spurs have been the unqualified winners of the 2015 Free Agent frenzy, and not just because they landed their white whale, LaMarcus Aldridge. They were also able to convince David West to leave behind more than $10 million in guaranteed money for a chance at a title.
They even got Danny Green – who could have easily joined the melee this summer and commanded a significantly larger payday – to re-sign for what was surely well below his value on the open market. On the very first day of free agency, no less. What’s more astonishing is that his actual deal is even lower than everyone thought. It was initially reported that he agreed to a four-year, $45 million contract, but it’s now become clear that his deal is actually for four years, $40 million, with a player option in the fourth year. The crazy part is that Green feels the deal was perfectly fair, regardless of whether most people would disagree with that assessment. Via Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express News:
So why didn’t Green cash in on the fact that the other 29 teams around the league were willing to spend like they’re playing with Monopoly money in anticipation of the skyrocketing salary cap over the next couple of seasons? It couldn’t have possibly been simply because his notoriously taciturn coach Gregg Popovich promised to be a little nicer this season, could it? Which wouldn’t exactly be a Herculean effort, by the way, considering that the last time we saw them interact, Pop was telling him to “shut the f*ck up.”
No, there’s plenty of reasons why any player would opt for the Spurs over just about any team in the Association. Let’s not forget that there was a time in Green’s career when he was planted firmly on the NBA fringe and could have easily ended up exiled overseas somewhere. The Spurs, as has become their calling card, recognized his potential as a prototypical “3 and D” guy and nurtured his evolution into the type of two-way player league execs salivate over and open up their wallets for.
There’s something to be said for loyalty in the modern NBA, especially when hired guns tend to go to the highest bidder. It’s admirable that Green wants to remain with the organization that made his career. It’s also his best chance to win another title, which surely factored into his decision. But was it really necessary to take a pay cut? Didn’t they already have the financial flexibility to sign Aldridge and bring back Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, et al?
So what’s really behind Green’s claim that he got what he’s worth? Well, for starters, there’s the fear of the unknown. The Spurs have become absolutely infamous for coaxing head-scratching production out of former castaways who other teams gave up on long ago. With that giant check comes the equally-oversized burden of expectation to replicate that production in a whole new environment. That’s a lot of pressure, and many before Green have positively wilted under that pressure (Lance Stephenson, anyone?).
Green’s perspective most likely has to do with comfort, familiarity, and continuity. It’s just a shame that it had to come at a certain expense. Maybe he just needs a new agent.
(via Dan McCarney)