By June 29, San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green will have two choices to make with his player option for next season: 1) Exercise the option and return to the Spurs for $10 million and then he can become an unrestricted free agent in the summer for 2019 at age 32. Or 2) Decline the player option and become an unrestricted free agent July 1 at age 31.
Evaluating the market will be key for Green and his agent this summer before deciding to opt in or out of the player option. From one perspective, Lou Williams, who averaged 22.6 points and 5.3 assists in 73 games with the Los Angeles Clippers this past season signed an extension for 3-years, $24 million. After the cap spike two summers ago, there aren’t expected to be many teams with cap space to offer role players this summer, especially playoff teams that would covet Green’s 3-and-D ability. According to a recent article by Zach Lowe of ESPN.com, Green and Will Barton of the Denver Nuggets are expected to see offers like Williams’ extension this summer, which will be in the $8.6 million range annually, or the amount of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception.
However, according to Sean Deveney of SportingNews.com, there might be more incentive for Green to become a free agent this summer, as Deveney writes Green could see a new contract in the $12-14 million range annually. Hearing two different spectrums of the market for Green is where Green and his agent will have to decide which side holds the most truth in the upcoming market.
Even if the market was in the $8.6 million range annually for Green, he could still elect to decline his player option in the hope of getting a new long-term deal. In this scenario, Green would be walking away from $10 million next season, but, if he got a three-year deal with the Spurs or another team for say 3-years, $26 million, that type of deal could provide Green more security and keep him with a guaranteed contract up to age 34.
If Green did decline his player option with the Spurs, he would have a cap hold on the Spurs’ books this summer for $15 million. This means if there was mutual interest, he could re-sign with the Spurs on a long-term deal using his bird rights. If Green declined the player option and chose not to re-sign with the Spurs, his $15 million cap hold would remain on the Spurs’ books until he signed with a new team or the Spurs renounced the cap hold.
The market for Green will be interesting when considering the type of deal Williams has already inked, but, both players have different roles and help their teams in different ways. For Green, it’s about his impact on the defensive end of the floor. According to CleaningTheGlass.com, he placed in the 100th percentile (elite) in block percentage among wings, as he accounted for 2.4% of the Spurs’ blocks on their defensive plays this season. Green also placed in the 66th percentile in steal percentage among wings in the NBA this season. Green has the versatility to guard positions 1-4 in today’s NBA. In the Spurs’ first-round exit to the Golden State Warriors, Green was tasked with the assignment of guarding Kevin Durant for the beginning of the series, and he finished guarding Klay Thompson in the last two games of the series. One of Green’s most unique skills is his transition defense, where he has accurate precision in swatting layups that look like automatic makes, or he can even prevent a 2-on-1 fast break from time to time.
When it comes to the offensive end of the floor, there are not as many positives for Green. Green shot 36% from three this season, but he hasn’t shot over 39.5% from three (his career 3-point average) since the 2014-15 season. With Kawhi Leonard out for basically the entire season, Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich needed more shooting on the floor at different times this season, so there were several games where Patty Mills started in place of Green at the 2-position.
Critics will likely point to Green’s recent playoff numbers, where he scored 4.2 points and shot 25% from three in five games against the Warriors. Those 4.2 points per game are his lowest amount of points scored in the playoffs since the 2010-11 season with the Spurs. However, an NBA team won’t just evaluate Green on five games against the Warriors, but instead on his entire body of work this season on both ends of the floor and which direction his production is projected to go toward in the coming years as he gets older.
June 29 will be the day to watch for Green’s decision on his player option.