The Trail Blazers are the dark horse candidate to land Draymond Green

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Draymond Green is a four time NBA champion and four time NBA All-Star. He led the league in steals in 2017, when he was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year. He has made the All-NBA second team once, the All-NBA third team once, the All-Defensive first team four times and the All-Defensive second team three times. He’s best known for his defense and playmaking abilities, becoming an All-Star caliber player without much concern for scoring the ball. His best years may be behind him while a contract negotiation looms ahead, and the recent drama that occurred in practice has put his current status with the Golden State Warriors in question – he could be a prime trade candidate. A team that could really benefit from his services would be the Portland Trail Blazers.

In the Damian Lillard era, he has only played with one other All-Star in his career: LaMarcus Aldridge. The Blazers have not surrounded their superstar with the right running mate (no offense to his talented former sidekick CJ McCollum) who could put them over the top. The team did acquire Jerami Grant in the 2022 offseason, a defensive stalwart who can also score the ball on all three levels. An efficient scorer with the ability to guard all five positions, he might prove to be the best player to wear a Blazers jersey next to Lillard.

The acquisition of Green wouldn’t catapult the Blazers to the top of a tough Western Conference, however his leadership and playmaking could elevate the team to a new level where they could compete with those teams. Despite helping the Warriors win their 4th championship in 8 years just a few months ago, recent developments may result in him being more available than anyone would have anticipated.

On October 7th, a video of Draymond Green punching teammate Jordan Poole made the rounds on social media after being leaked by TMZ. On October 8th, Green formally apologized for his actions and announced that he was going to take a leave of absence from the team. It isn’t clear how long he will be away from the team, however it is very likely he will be back with the team before the Warriors’ opening game of the season.

This altercation has made the atmosphere within the Warriors organization a bit messy, as the leak of the video isn’t exactly an indication of strong team chemistry. Prior to this incident, Green also didn’t believe a contract extension would materialize. Due to the team’s expensive roster with salaries just north of $346 million in total, Green might have to make some adjustments in order to avoid being deemed expendable, with breakout star Andrew Wiggins and the ascending Jordan Poole definitely deserving more minutes and young players like Moses Moody, Jonathan Kuminga, and James Wiseman possibly ready to take their games up a level.

If there’s a time for anyone to pry the Warriors legend away from Golden State, that time is now. There aren’t many teams that would be willing to work through Green’s salary and outdated style of play; however, there is one star in the league who has name-dropped the Warriors forward. Anthony Slater of The Athletic reported on his HoopsHype podcast that Lillard has been obsessed with the Blazers acquiring Green .

Lillard and Green played for Team USA during the 2021 Summer Olympics, where they grew close and pushed each other to compete. Joe Vardon from The Athletic reported that even when Green lost his starting spot on Team USA, he was the squad’s most valuable player for a time because he pushed Lillard to perform.

“Draymond was just like ‘Damian Lillard doesn’t hesitate to shoot the ball,” Lillard said. “He was just like, “That’s not what you do. Like, you knock those types of shots down, and that’s what we needed you to do at that moment. You passing up opportunities like that doesn’t serve this team well. We spoke about it and it was simple. I just said, “I should have shot it and it won’t happen again.’ I’m gonna come correct going forward.”

Lillard led the team in scoring the very next game and the rest is history. If it wasn’t for Green, the Blazers star may not have emerged as a leader for that team. Green even helped Lillard pop champagne when they finally won the gold medal. Green’s veteran leadership and championship-winning experience could greatly help Lillard by giving him a mentor and friend on his team who will bring out the best in him.

Green has a player option for 2023-24 so if no new deal is reached, which could be more unlikely than ever at this point, Green could reach free agency during that offseason. Rather than letting him walk for nothing, the Warriors could trade him for assets to bolster their roster with veteran playmakers and youth for the future.

Green will be 33 years old this 2022-2023 season and his All-Star days are behind him, but he can still provide playmaking and defense. He averaged 7.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks in 28.9 minutes per game last season, and did shoot a solid 52.5% from the field. He provides intangibles that don’t always show up on the stat sheet. On a Blazers team led by Lillard, he won’t be expected to be an All-Star caliber player. The most enticing deal that the Blazers could offer the Warriors to match salaries and still inject some reasonable youth for the aging former All-Star would be a package including Josh Hart, Justise Winslow and Nassir Little, along with a future first round draft pick.

Josh Hart’s revamped style of play after being traded to the Blazers in 2021 proved that he has what it takes to wear multiple hats on a competitive team. In 13 games for Portland last season, he averaged 19.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 32.1 minutes per game. Although a small sample size, he has been working on his playmaking to go along with his 3-and-D reputation. In his exit interview after the season, he explained how he could become more guard dominant moving forward.

“In terms of playmaking I’m going to have the ball in my hands and doing that kind of thing, so that’s something I’m excited about.” Hart said. “If you look at my time in this league, last year and this year in New Orleans, I was the starting four, playing two through four. So now the role and the playmaking is going to be different but it’s something I’m excited about, it’s something I feel like I’m comfortable with and just looking forward to it.”

Justise Winslow hasn’t become the star he was once touted to be when he was drafted 10th overall in the 2015 draft; however at 26 years young, he could still become a solid role player for a championship-aspiring Warriors team. He has defensive versatility standing at 6’6″ and being able to guard multiple positions. He even tried his hand at point guard when playing for the Miami Heat, so playmaking from the forward position could still be something that he could showcase.

Nassir Little is the youthful budding player that the Warriors would love to add to their young core of James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, Jordan Poole, and Moses Moody. He is an energetic sparkplug who has raised his efficiency since his rookie campaign and is looking for an extended role. At 22 years young, he fits the new timeline that will be set once Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson aren’t in the Warriors future plans.

POSSIBLE LINEUP :
PG Damian Lillard
SG Anfernee Simons
SF Jerami Grant
PF Draymond Green
C Jusuf Nurkic

ROTATION BENCH :
G Gary Payton II
G Shaedon Sharpe
F Trendon Watford
C Drew Eubanks

DEEP BENCH :
C Devonte Cacok
C Olivier Sarr
G Brandon Williams

DEVELOPMENT YOUTH :
F Greg Brown
G Keon Johnson
F Jabari Walker

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