The clock is ticking. The Warriors, as a franchise, know it. Draymond Green, as their power forward/point forward/center, knows it.
It was accepted a couple years ago that it was unreasonable to expect Draymond to sustain his relentless full-throttle, court-scorching intensity over a long career. At some point, maybe in his early 30s, the juice would dry up and battery would begin to resist recharging.
But Green’s stellar performances in the postseason reminded everyone that he still has it when his teammates really need it.
The Warriors recognized this and concluded that Green has been too important to next season as a lame duck. He deserved better. He has earned so much more.
To be determined was whether Draymond was willing to extend his contract beyond 2020, even at the expense of upwards of $100 million.
That question was answered Saturday, when Green and the Warriors agreed on an extension worth roughly $100 million over four seasons, beginning in 2020-2021.
Why would Green, who could have doubled that total with a five-year max next summer, offer himself at such a discount? Because he knows the clock is ticking. His body reminds him after every game, and it clobbers him with that reality after every season.
“When I finish the playoffs every year, I’m exhausted — and more so mentally than physically, because I view these games like life or death,” Green said during the Western Conference finals in May.
Green, 29, already has taken steps during the 82-game regular season to preserve himself for the postseason. He picks his spots to save energy in January in hopes of having it in April, May and June. It’s a ploy other vets utilize, but is that rare player that wears multiple hats at both ends of the court.
But who else is asked to fill roles of chief playmaker and primary paint protector? Particularly when, at a generously listed 6-foot-7, 230 pounds, his physique is not ideally suited for either?
That Draymond is so terrific at multitasking explains his rise from second-round draft pick to NBA All-Star and, moreover, a pillar of a team that has made five consecutive trips to The Finals, coming away with three championships.
If there is anything Warriors CEO Joe Lacob wants the world to know, it is that he is willing to put money into the product. Being associated with cheapness is the fastest route to NBA mediocrity, or worse, so he grabs a bullhorn to shout his message that this is one franchise committed to maintaining its reputation as a first-class operation.
Understand, the Warriors are spending now to potentially save later. That’s called investing.
Though the Warriors see next season as one in which development is more crucial than contending — though the playoffs remain a priority — they firmly believe they’ll be back among the elite in 2020-2021.
They’re not ready to believe they rejoin the elite without having Draymond alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevon Looney, maybe D’Angelo Russell and whomever else becomes an integral part of the rotation.
The Warriors also know their best chances at winning championships require everything they can get from Green. The defense, the passing, the rebounding, the massive emotional spark only he could provide.
There is no knowing how many more seasons Green will be able to put his signature on games, particularly in the postseason. The Warriors don’t know and neither does Draymond.
Both know he can do it now, which makes this extension a smart move by both parties.