Going into the free agency moratorium period on July 1, the Los Angeles Lakers knew they had two things working their favor: The ability to pay players handsomely with $32 million in cap space, and a superstar duo in Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
Those two things landed them Danny Green, among other players.
“It wasn’t very hard with LeBron and Anthony Davis here,” Green said of why he picked the Lakers in free agency during a conference call with reporters on Thursday.
The 32-year-old is coming off of a championship season with the Toronto Raptors, where he averaged 10.3 points per game on 46.5 percent shooting from the field, including an impressive 45.5 percent shooting from behind the 3-point line on 5.4 attempts per game.
Green was also one of seven players to average at least 10 points per game on at least 40 percent shooting from the field while attempting at least five threes last season. The others were Joe Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Buddy Hield, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry. Of that group, Green posted the second-highest box plus-minus.
Outside of All-Stars Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler (although the latter is more of a small forward these days), Green was arguably the best shooting guard on the market and, statistically speaking, the second-best defensive shooting guard available. So, how did the Lakers manage to land his signature so late into the free agency period? By being the best basketball situation available, according to Green.
“Obviously when you’re with a winning team and you’ve won, you want to run it back if possible, but that wasn’t gonna happen. And even if it did happen, I don’t think they had room for me there,” Green said.
“So you go to who you think the next best team in the league is, and that was here, just with the foundation they had. They only had three players on the roster on the time, but those players were pretty damn good,” Green continued. “You know with those three you can build something special.”
He’s got two. We’ve got 16. Let’s work on another. pic.twitter.com/OByS7xtRUr— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) July 12, 2019
Green also said that he expects to get more than a few open looks playing alongside two players that demand as much attention on the defensive end as James and Davis do.
”It’s exciting man, it gives (you) nothing but the ultimate confidence and belief in yourself and your team,” Green said. “You know you’ll get some easy things coming your way because of how special they are.
“Having two superstars on your team is kind of hard to believe, and it makes you really excited and confident, and back to playing the game as if you were a kid again and having that type of fun.”
However, as excited as he clearly is to play alongside Davis and James, Green said he’s looking forward to playing with everyone else on the team as well, and praised the front office for constructing a well-thought-out roster.
“I think they did a great job of filling out the roster with guys that play the same style of ball, and that’s a fast, up-and-down pace. Obviously that helps me get open looks by running the floor, and you got guys like AD and ‘Bron, Kuz, so many threats that can do so many different things. And I think we have some really good defensive pieces. Avery Bradley, who is phenomenal, KCP, Jared Dudley does his role very well, he’s very crafty. All those guys can play a huge role in keeping the team together, not just on the court but in the locker room.”
A seasoned veteran and NBA champion himself, Green is also expected to be one of the leaders in the locker room; a locker room that features James, who Green played alongside during his rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2009. Green was the No. 46 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. James was the No. 1 pick six years prior.
Green and James were unable to get over the hump in Cleveland, losing to the Boston Celtics in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals, but Green and the San Antonio Spurs then beat James’ Miami Heat in the 2014 NBA Finals after losing to him to them the year before. Now, he’s excited that he and James have an opportunity to compete for a championship together in Los Angeles.
“It’s been a lot of fun ups and downs,” Green said of his basketball journey running in conjunction with James’ own. “Getting a chance to play with him, play against him, compete. And now compete with him, to have it come full circle, it’s crazy how things work out.
“I’m really excited about where things could possibly go for this upcoming season, and I think we could really make some special things happen here.”
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