Danny Green’s offseason after winning a title on the 2019-2020 Lakers was historically short.
It was eventful, too. Green was traded to the Thunder, then shipped to the Sixers. The deal wasn’t official until Dec. 8, so he couldn’t join his newest team until training camp had already started.
With a longer offseason in front of him following the Sixers’ second-round loss to the Hawks, Green will wait before seriously thinking about his future. He turned 34 years old Tuesday and will become an unrestricted free agent.
“It’s way too early, man,” Green said Monday. “I haven’t had any thoughts about it. We had our exit meeting just now and business is business, at the end of the day, but even though I was here for a short amount of time, this is like a family to me. Every team I’ve gone to has been like a family to me. It’s been great. These people have taken care of us. They’ve looked out for me. I have a bunch of love for this city and this organization. And I talked to (head coach Doc Rivers). My first, initial reaction was, ‘Hell of a year. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.’ He goes, ‘Oh, you’ll be back. You ain’t going nowhere.’ That’s a good sign that they want me back. I talked to the guys and they said they’ll hopefully have me back. It’s always great to feel wanted.
“But, like I said, I haven’t had a chance to really think about it. I have until August, until free agency starts. Right now, I haven’t had a full summer in a while to enjoy my offseason, which is a good and a bad thing. I had a chance to win in Toronto, I had a chance to win in L.A. I had six weeks off. Maybe that’s why I got injured. I don’t know. Give my body a chance to rest. I’m rehabbing right now, still rehabbing, regardless of what happened.
“I’ve got a wedding to plan for, other people’s weddings, building a house, that type of thing — getting married this summer. So I’m focused on that and obviously free agency is in the mix of that, but it’s just not something I’ve really thought deeply about right now, because I thought we would still be playing and focused on the here and now. Nobody has plans right now. Everybody has canceled everything until July 22, because we thought we’d have an opportunity to keep playing until then.”
Green suffered a right calf strain early in Game 3 against Atlanta. The Sixers won that night but then went 1-3 without their starting small forward. Furkan Korkmaz stepped in for Green and averaged 7.5 points over those four games, making 35.5 percent of his field goals and 25 percent of his three-pointers. If the Sixers had beaten the Hawks, Green said he expected to be available at some point during the Eastern Conference finals.
His teammates missed Green on the floor but appreciated his active role on the bench. Matisse Thybulle described Green as having a “player slash coach’s perspective.”
“A little bit of everything — X’s and O’s; mentally; what to look for; what to be careful of; how he thinks that I can impact the game, given the situation,” Thybulle said last week. “He’s pretty dynamic in the way that he views the game and his ability to share information to multiple types of players in a lot of different situations. His advice shows up in countless ways.”
Once Green is finished as a player, Rivers thinks he’ll join the coaching ranks.
“Doc for some reason thinks I’m going to coach,” Green said. “I’m saying, ‘Hell no, I’m not coaching.’ I’m not saying that I couldn’t do it. I’m capable of doing it, but it’s just a lot. It’s draining. I see Doc’s hair — he’s losing his hair. Some guys’ hair goes gray. I’d like to keep my hair, keep it dark. I don’t want the stress.
“When I’m done playing, I’d love to stay around the sport and do sideline, talking, TV — that type of deal. But a lot of the league is managing egos, and that’s not easy to do — figuring out and making tough decisions. … I feel like I’m a people pleaser. It’s hard for me to tell people no. I can make tough decisions when I need to, but to manage that many people and also to have the pressure of winning, your job not being that stable, it’s tough. It’s a tough category, a tough job to be in.
“So for me, the sideline, TV type of deal is for me. To your question of how many years I’d like to play, as many as I can. As many as my body allows me to. This year ... I felt better than I have in a while. My body was able to move better. Last year in the bubble I was kind of beat up. Even last year during the year, I was kind of beat up. But even though I had six weeks off, I had a nice reset. My body felt good. I played 69 games of the 72. Unfortunately, I got hurt in this round. But my body feels good, man. I feel like I’ve got a couple good more years left in me — hopefully a solid four. After that, I’d love to be a veteran and help lead some guys. Maybe (be like) Vince Carter. I’ll be talking on the sideline and playing at the same time. You never know. Vince is my idol.”
Before any of that, there’s the question of whether Green will indeed return to Philadelphia as Rivers expects. The Sixers have Green’s Early Bird rights, meaning the salary cap won’t restrict their ability to sign him.
He was part of an excellent starting lineup that outscored opponents by 15.9 points per 100 possessions during the regular season, per Cleaning the Glass. In the postseason, the Sixers’ starting five had an outlandishly good plus-39.6 net rating.
Green shot 40.5 percent from three-point range on a career-high 6.3 attempts per game and was the NBA’s most prolific corner three marksman. He’s not a star stopper, but Green was generally a helpful piece of the Sixers’ No. 2-rated defense.
A chance to add to his three NBA titles will clearly be among his top priorities in free agency.
“I have a couple idols out there,” Green said. “Vince is one of them, (Andre Iguodala) is another. The guy wrote a book halfway through the year, signed an extension and is living and playing in Miami. He’s still playing well and doing well, and he’s a champion with the resume of a Hall of Famer.
“That’s the goal — to be Iguodala, Robert Horry, Derek Fisher, those type of guys. Keep winning rings, keep playing as long as I can. Obviously I’d love to be Vince and play 22 years, but I don’t think my body will hold up that long. I don’t know how guys do it. I’m at 12 and I’m like, Jesus Christ.”