Money matters, but it’s not the primary factor worth considering for a 34-year-old who’s won three NBA titles.
Danny Green said as much in explaining Thursday on a Zoom call with reporters why he decided to re-sign with the Sixers despite giving serious consideration to other suitors.
Green named the Nets, Lakers, Bucks, Bulls, Cavs, Warriors and Hornets as among the teams with interest in him at one stage.
“There were some teams that came to the table that made it very interesting,” he said, “but it was very hard to see myself in that situation, trying to help rebuild something with a group of young guys — not saying alone, but there weren’t too many other people to help. ... If the money was a large difference, then maybe I’d think about it more. But because there wasn’t a big, large difference in that … but there were some teams I did consider. I liked the direction they were going in before they even made big moves.
“But I like to win. At this point in my career, I couldn’t see myself being the rebuild guy. That’s a tough position to be in. I have good years left and I want to use those years to help put something special together — be a piece to a very nice puzzle. I think I have that here in Philly. It’s tough to pass up on what I have now, what I can bring here, to go somewhere else for more money to try to help rebuild. Winning is something I’m used to. I think it’d be a culture shock to be in some type of other environment.”
After committing to the Lakers early in free agency, Dwight Howard pushed for a third consecutive season as Green’s teammate. He wasn’t the only one making a pitch.
“The market was kind of strange,” Green said. “A lot of (teams) wanted me, but they just didn’t have the space or the money for it. So not just here in Philly, but other teams recruited me, as well. Dwight was trying to get me to come back to L.A. George (Hill) was trying to get me to Milwaukee. … People were trying to get me to go other places. But of course Philly, the guys on the team … Joel (Embiid), I talked to him at the end of the season. He sent me a text like, ‘Yo, I really want you back. I understand the business side of it and you’ve got to do what’s best for you and your family, but I would really love to have you here.’ Tobias (Harris) was calling me nonstop. We FaceTimed. We’re from the same area, so I know him well. We communicated throughout the process about what was going on.
“He’d say, ‘Look, man, you can’t go there. I can’t lose you to that team’ — that type of thing. He’d say, ‘We’re going to make it happen. We’re going to make something work.’ It was great to hear that throughout the process, great to talk to my teammates and see how excited they were that I’m back. We had a great group; we had a lot of fun on and off the court. We gelled together well. We had good chemistry and we got along. A lot of those guys were excited and interested, and expressed that they wanted me back. And I’m glad I was able to come back, and we can hopefully do something special again this year.”
Cap space was not an obstacle for the Sixers in retaining Green, since they had his Early Bird Rights. Though well above the salary cap, the team could pay Green as much as 175 percent of his approximately $15.4 million salary for the 2020-21 season. Green ultimately re-signed for two years and $20 million, with only the first season of his deal guaranteed. The Sixers have exceeded the luxury tax threshold — not a surprise — and are hovering around the tax apron, though they’d of course be in a worse financial spot if Green insisted on being paid more.
Green’s value extends beyond his on-court impact. He’s the oldest Sixers rotation player at the moment, followed by Seth Curry, who will turn 31 years old later this month. His candid feedback, sideline savvy and postseason knowledge are all part of the package, in addition to three-point shooting and perimeter defensive skills that have yet to diminish drastically with age.
After missing the final four games of the Sixers’ crushing second-round series loss to the Hawks with a right calf strain, Green liked the idea of taking another shot in Philadelphia.
“I believe that if I was healthy, things might have been different,” he said. “We definitely have some unfinished business. But it’s always been a priority for me to win wherever I go, and I felt we had a good chance to do that. We had a good foundation, a good core. … I think we’re a great team in the East and in the league, depending on if we can keep people, if they buy in, etc.
“But it’s always a priority for me to be on a winning team, be on a contender — and Philly’s always been that. We had a great shot, a great opportunity to bring everyone back, and I think we still have a great opportunity.”