How much is defense worth in the NBA? According to the Golden State Warriors, the price of an elite defensive player is a cool $25 million a year. Per an Adrian Wojnarowski report, the Warriors have locked Draymond Green up with a max four-year extension, worth $100 million:
The deal will keep Green in the only uniform he’s known in his seven-year career, and out of what is a rapidly diminishing 2020 free agency pool; aside from Anthony Davis rejecting his player option to test the waters, the next best unrestricted free agent will be ... Andre Drummond? The Green extension wasn’t always a sure thing, but the events of both the 2019 NBA Finals and the summer’s free agency bonanza made it a no-brainer for Golden State.
When Kevin Durant decamped from Golden State to Brooklyn, it created a mess of problems from the Warriors, but it also created an opportunity for the team’s Troublemaker-In-Chief. It was always going to be hard for Golden State to keep its core four players together; Durant, Steph Curry (who is never going anywhere else), Klay Thompson, and Green are all high-earning players in a league that, at most, allows you to have three of those long-term. The pecking order suggested that one or both of Thompson and Green would be heading out the door, but as of Saturday, both have signed lucrative, long-term deals. (Thompson signed a five-year, $190 million deal when free agency opened.)
Locking up a 29-year-old tertiary star for that amount of money feels insane on the surface, but Green’s game has never been predicated on elite athleticism; in fact, that’s one of the main reasons he even slipped to Golden State in the second round of the 2012 draft. Instead, his IQ-heavy style should age well enough into his age-34 season, and will give these world-beating Warriors a chance to take back their crown, particularly once Thompson returns from his ACL injury.
Plus, this is a league where Terry Rozier got $19 million a year, so Green at $25 million feels just right, if not even a bit low. Green could have tested the market next year, in hopes that someone would offer him a max contract worth up to $235.5 million, if he qualified for the supermax (which was unlikely but not impossible). With how bad the free agency class of 2020 looks on paper, surely someone—hello, New York—would have given him a huge offer and the chance to be a team’s main star.