This will be the first time in a while that the Warriors start the year not being strong championship favorites. Kevin Durant is now a member of the Brooklyn Nets, Klay Thompson is recovering from an ACL injury and D’Angelo Russell is joining the Golden State backcourt.
Fresh off of inking a $100 million contract extension to remain with the Warriors, Green sat down with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in Las Vegas to discuss what the new deal means to him, how he found out Durant was leaving and what’s next for this franchise. Here’s part of that interview.
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.
Rachel Nichols: Alright, you have been living your best life these past couple of weeks. Music festival in Toronto with Drake, Boogie Cousins’ bachelor party in the Bahamas, you and I are sitting here right now in Las Vegas. It’s been an OK summer, and then that whole contract thing, too. I guess you’ve had a lot to celebrate.
Draymond Green: Absolutely. You know, it’s been an amazing couple of weeks for me.
The funny thing about going to Toronto is — I was just going to meet the guys out there. You know, I had never been to the OVO Fest, and so I’m, like, I’ll just go. And I landed that morning, I was checking into the hotel, and Rich [Paul] come on — [claps] beeline right out the hotel. Like, “Come here.” And [snaps] — it just happened like that. Like, I had no idea what was about to happen that morning.
Nichols: That the contract was that close?
Green: I knew that they were working on it. I had no idea I was about to land to, like — oh, let’s agree to this deal.
Nichols: For those who don’t have access to a newspaper, you and the Warriors agreed to a $100 million extension. Was there a point where you maybe got up to the hotel room, where you had a second alone, that you just said, damn, $100 million?
Green: There’s been several points where I’ve sat back and said, ‘Wow, hey, I signed for $100 million.’ Like, that’s not your normal thing for a kid from Saginaw, Michigan. Like, I’m still at a loss for words about it.
Nichols: I think so much money and figures are thrown around with professional athletes, sometimes people get numb to it. But as you said, you were a kid sitting in Saginaw, Michigan. You were never the most highly recruited guy going into college. Out of college, 35th pick in the draft. And then even once you were successful, there were a lot of people who did not like the way you went about your business. You had arguments with your coaches, teammates, suspension in the NBA Finals.
What does this contract say, validating the way you have gone about your life and your career?
Green: I think it tells the story that no one has ever been willing to tell. You know, I think everyone wants to tell the story of, oh, like, Draymond’s this hothead. He argued with Steve Kerr, argued with his teammates. He did this, he got suspended from the Finals, he got suspended for arguing with Kevin Durant. Everyone wants to tell that story, because that’s the story that gets the most clicks and that’s the cool thing to do.
But no one wants to tell the real story, that Draymond is a very intelligent guy, that Draymond is someone who actually cares about his coaching staff and about the organization and about his teammates. And above all, about winning. You know, no one ever wants to tell that story, because it gets old. And everyone then wants to see the Golden State Warriors lose.
What this contract tells you that all the garbage that you tried to say about me arguing with Kevin or about the thing with Steve Kerr about the suspension — it just tells you that there was a method to that madness. And while so many people tried to write it differently, as I said before, they were wrong. There’s proof in the pudding now that you were wrong. And I enjoy that just a tad.
Nichols: Oh, just a little bit?
Green: A lot. [Laughs].
Nichols: There were people who have been saying over the past couple of weeks, ‘Why would he sign this extension now?’ You could’ve chased a few more million dollars here or there, next summer is not gonna be like this past summer. You would have been the most high-profile free agent available on the market. So why lock yourself up now on your side of things?
Green: You know, people always talk about testing the market. But if you’re testing something, there’s a possibility that you come up short. You know, we’ve seen that story, we’ve seen that movie a million times. Where guys think, like, ‘Oh, I wanna test the market and see what I can get.’ Wasn’t quite what you could’ve gotten had you not tested the market.
With Rich and Mark Termini (of Klutch Sports) and myself, one thing we talked about from the very beginning was understanding the business. Understanding that there’s five teams who can possibly next year offer me $30 million. Now, how about you do your diligence, understand the business that you’re in and figure out which one of those five teams are gonna give me all of that $30 million that they have available.
The flipside of it is I got two guys that I’ve been rolling with since the time I stepped into this league in Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson). And I went from 46 wins or 48 wins to 50 wins to 60 wins to 73 wins and three championships with those two guys.
With those two guys, I’ve done every single day of my NBA career. And we have the opportunity to have a lot more days together to continue to build a legacy. You know, we started this whole Golden State thing when it wasn’t so sexy. Why would I get to this point where we done built this entire organization up and bail on it? Like, you know, you don’t bail on your baby. You know, the Golden State Warriors, that’s our baby. Like, you don’t just bail on your baby.
Green: Absolutely. I actually talked to K yesterday. You know, Kevin is my brother. He came to Golden State for three seasons. We won two championships … if someone would’ve told me, man, Kevin Durant’s gonna come to the Warriors and you guys are gonna win two championships and then have a shot at winning a third, would you take that? In a heartbeat. And so that was a major success. That’s my brother, and I’m happy for him.
Because, you know, not many times in life do you get to do what you wanna do. He’s worked his ass off and had the opportunity to do what he wanted to do. And he did exactly that. And someone who puts the amount of effort that that guy puts into the game of basketball, he deserves to do exactly that.
Nichols: How did he tell you that he was picking Brooklyn?
Green: I found out that he was picking Brooklyn when everybody else found out. Which is exactly how it should be. You know, so many times you hear somebody say, “Oh, man, that guy didn’t tell me this.”
He don’t owe it to me to tell me before he tells everybody else. Like, we did what we had to do. The thing that people forget about in this league is, like, this is our lives. I’m not about to go to Kevin Durant and say, “Hey, Kevin, can I get my FIAncé pregnant?”
Nichols: Right. [Laughs]
Green: Right. But that’s my life.
Nichols: Thank you for that visual, by the way.
Green: I’m sorry, but like … maybe we’ll go somewhere else with that …
Nichols: What kind of Draymond Green are we gonna see this season? Because last season there were points where you got injured, that tumbled into you being out of shape. You had five-year lows in a lot of major categories, shooting problems. Then in the playoffs, we saw a totally different Draymond Green, diet, you were a monster on the court on both ends.
Are you gonna be able to keep that up through all of next season?
Green: So, last year taught me a lot. You know, diet, taking care of my body. All the things that — I’m 29 now — that I need to know. And I was able to get that through the course of last year and still be able to rise up throughout the playoffs and do what I’ve normally done. I look forward to doing that for the entire season again and again and again. You know, it’s a lot easier to go into a season knowing you’re going back to the Finals. And, you know, burn some unforeseen things knowing you’re going to another championship. It’s a different thing.
I’m excited to go into this season and not know we’re gonna win the championship. But know that no matter what, we’re gonna compete like we can and possibly do it. I’m excited for that challenge. I’m excited for the challenge of Steph being the oldest guy on the team and only me and Klay right after that in this severe age gap. And so a part of that is coming into the season in tip top shape and ready to go. I’ve been in the gym doing different workouts. It’s been really good. And I’ve been excited to do that.
Like, this is a different challenge. This is: Grab these young guys and teach them how to win, teach them what it means to be great. Teach them how to work — the things that you need to understand to win at the highest level. I’m looking forward to that challenge. And so, what Draymond Green will you see? A different one. Because the circumstances are different. But the method behind the madness always remains the same.
Nichols: Alright, last question. So we’re sitting here in Las Vegas. The oddsmakers have not given you guys good odds to win the title, compared to some of the other teams.
What do you make of odds as you go forward here?
Green: I like it. You know, being the underdog, it’s been a while since we’ve been the underdog. But it brings that underdog chip back, and I miss that chip. I’m pretty sure Steph missed that chip. And some of the stuff Klay been texting me this summer, I’m positive he misses the chip.
D’Angelo (Russell) coming in with something to prove. Willie Cauley-Stein coming in with something to prove. We got a bunch of young guys coming in, trying to show their worth in the league. We got (Kevon Looney) coming back, who — shout out to Loon for signing him a nice contract but who, you know, a lotta people feel should’ve gotten more. He comes back with something to prove.
For the first time in numerous amount of years, I mean — Steve Kerr’s a great coach. But he will actually get to coach. You know, when you have a team like we had, I mean, let’s just be quite frank about it, Steve didn’t coach that team every single night. You know, there’s times where every single night, yes, he gets to coach the team, but to be able to actually coach every single day, every single night — you know, that’s another, not necessarily challenge, but something to bring life to the coaching staff.
So to the oddsmakers, thanks. You got me where I am today. I look forward to where they take me again.