It’s somewhat understandable why league executives are skeptical of Danny Green.
He’s a former second-round pick who was cut by the Cleveland Cavaliers on three separate occasions. He’s less explosive than most above-average wings, and doesn’t have the off-dribble verve to work as an effective supplemental ballhandler. And most importantly, his career was made by Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs.
Even more than Green’s basketball limitations, it’s fair to assume the latter reality is what makes him a less attractive free agent option than his on-court impact suggests. The Spurs turn water into wine. Green is arguably their most surprising success story, but Boris Diaw and Patty Mills fit a similar bill, too. Even a player as athletically gifted as Kawhi Leonard wouldn’t be what he is if not for the nurture of San Antonio.
And according to Grantland’s Zach Lowe, a sizable portion of teams doubt they can coax the performance from Green that the Spurs did over the past four seasons.
Based on his play since emerging as a cog in San Antonio, Green is absolutely worth a salary over $10 million – perhaps easily. A potential four-year, $52 million contract wouldn’t seem crazy for a player of his unique two-way caliber, especially as the salary cap is set to explode to $108 million by 2017-2018.
Green is a near prototype representation of the en vogue “3-and-D” wing. He shot 41.8 percent from beyond the arc on 5.6 three-point attempts per game in 2014-2015, and hasn’t connected on less than 41.5 percent of his long-range tries in any of the past four years. The North Carolina product has become adept at taking advantage of aggressive close-outs with a one-dribble pull-up or quick side-step, and has grown increasingly comfortable launching contested bombs, too.
But Green is still best on the other end of the floor. Though he received just 18 points in the All-Defense voting, the 6-foot-6 wing is certainly among the very best perimeter defenders in basketball. He has innate balance, quick hands, and is stout enough to avoid getting bullied in the post. When it comes to transition defense, Green really might be without peer – how many times have you seen him single-handedly thwart a seemingly easy fast break opportunity?
If used correctly, he could do for any team in the league what he did for the Spurs. The problem for many front offices, surely, is that their fan base would expect major production from a player earning a salary normally reserved for stars. As long as ownership and the coaching staff understand what to expect from Green, though, that concern shouldn’t keep competing squads from trying to steal him from San Antonio this summer.
Rest assured, too, that such an opportunity exists. The Spurs will have their hands full creating enough cap space to try and sign LaMarcus Aldridge outright. While R.C. Buford and company attempt to complete the necessary roster gymnastics to make that happen, an opportunistic franchise should absolutely offer Green a multi-year contract worth eight-figures annually and see if he bites. His affinity for San Antonio is well-known; it’ll take that type of aggression to lure him from the Alamo City.
And should it happen, Green will live up to his deal, too – as long as the entire organization doesn’t expect him to be something he’s not.
[Via Zach Lowe]