Danny Green (@DGreen_14) May 3, 2015
I guess right up front I should post a disclaimer that trying to read much into a tweet posted shortly after an emotional loss seems like a silly, pointless and wantonly speculative exercise. On the other hand, we watch strangers bounce a ball up and down the floor for a hobby, so arguing for a calm, measured and reserved approach to an off-season of roster-bating (h/t Grant Brisbee) would be the equivalent of wearing one of Tim Duncan's tuxedo T-shirts to a fancy dinner party.
At the risk of sounding terribly naive, I'm going to choose to believe that Green is sincere about wanting to be a Spur for life, as he, uh, hash-tagged. (Is that a word?) The Spurs did rescue his career after all, even though it's Green who deserves the lion's share of the credit for making the sacrifices and putting in the work to turn himself into a really good pro, both on and off the floor.
Though I personally could never tolerate the level of "negative reinforcement" coaching and the designation of being the team's resident whipping boy, Green seems to respond well to it. Maybe that's how he was raised by his parents and Popovich reminds him of his dad, I have no idea. Green seems truly grateful to PATFO for everything they've done for him and probably does feel a sense of loyalty to them. At the same time, it's worth noting that Green's career was not successful in Cleveland and it took him coming to San Antonio to really get serious about his craft. He's grown into this culture, he has a few minor endorsements in the area and he knows what to expect. Why give all that up for the unknown? Has he grown enough as a player where he's confident enough in his abilities to think he'd succeed elsewhere?
The thing is, Green should be confident. Even if he is a supposed "system" player, that's irrelevant in the modern NBA. At least half the teams in the league run some version of the Spurs offense, with similar plays, sets and concepts. You show me a team that wants to play fast, space the floor, move the ball and shoot a bunch of threes, and I'll show you a team where Green would thrive. The only questions in my mind are whether he needs Pop specifically to get the best out of him or, more importantly, if Green feels he does.
Everything I've heard on and off the record leads me to think Green wants to return to the Spurs. I'm shakier though on whether the feeling is mutual. I'm certain they'd like to keep him, everything being equal, but Green may have priced himself out of San Antonio's budget. I think he's going to get eight figures a year now, something like 4 years for 42 million or thereabouts. More than Tiago Splitter got, for sure.
Green's cap hold is almost $7 million, according to Grantland's Zach Lowe. The Spurs have to have that number on their books to retain his Bird rights and go over the cap to sign him, which they would almost certainly have to do. If they renounce him as a free agent, then they won't be able to sign him after that unless they spend the off-season signing no one of consequence.
The catch is with Green's cap hold, they'd only have $15 million in cap room left, which is less than the max. Certain big men you're thinking of up in Portland or over in Memphis are highly unlikely to sign for less than the max. The Spurs can try to coax Duncan and Manu Ginobili into returning in an effort to "bring the whole band back together" but I don't see how they can do that and sign anyone good, let alone a premier free agent. (Obviously all of this assumes that they will re-sign Kawhi Leonard for the max.)
I like Green, you like Green, we all like Green. Do you like him enough to keep him if the choice is him or Aldridge?
My educated guess is that PATFO will be direct and honest with Green. They want him back, but only at a certain price and because of priorities they will have to address their other needs first. If he can find a better deal for himself, he should probably seek that option, though of course money shouldn't be the only priority in his decision.
The best solution for everyone, which I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere, would be if the Spurs could sign Aldridge or Gasol and unload Splitter's contract from their books, perhaps by working a sign-and-trade with the Blazers or Grizzlies. It's a long shot, but dumping Splitter would in theory allow the Spurs to keep Green and get the max contract free agent the fables foretold.
My hunch is that Green will return, taking a bit of a hometown discount (4 years/36 million) and the Spurs will strike out on Aldridge and Gasol, with both of those guys deciding to stick it out with their incumbent teams. You'll be happy Green's back but a bit chagrined about what might have been.
Kind of like that Game 7 we just watched, actually.