To some degree, this made sense. The team needed shooting, and Green had just won a title with them the previous season. However, the Lakers also had basically no money to lure outside free agents with, and Green would have had to take a pretty decent-sized pay cut to return to Los Angeles. As a result, the shooting specialist and podcasting enthusiast ultimately re-signed in Philadelphia on a two-year, $20 million deal.
But it wasn’t just the Lakers recruiting Green back to Los Angeles. It was also his former Sixers (and Lakers) teammate, Dwight Howard.
“The market was kind of strange. A lot of people wanted me, but they just didn’t have the space or the money for it. So not just here in Philly, but other teams recruited me as well. Dwight was trying to get me to come back to L.A., George (Hill) was trying to get me to Milwaukee,” Green told our own Paul Hudrick of Liberty Ballers at his press conference to announce his return. “People were trying to get me to go other places.”
Green was a polarizing Laker, but the team ultimately missed his wing defense and shooting gravity during the 2020-21 campaign after dealing him and a first-round pick for Dennis Schröder. This Lakers roster could still use one more guy for wing depth, too, and so it makes sense on both a basketball and a human level that Howard would try to get his friend to return to a place where he feels they “left some rings on the table.”
Still, given that Green would have ultimately had to take a nearly 50% pay cut to return to Los Angeles even if they gave him the most money possible (their taxpayer mid-level exception of $5.9 million), it’s not surprising that he opted to return to a team that really wanted him instead of one that dumped him last summer to seek an upgrade that didn’t work out.
“Joel (Embiid), I talked to him at the end of the season. He sent me a text like, ‘Yo, I really went you back. I understand the business side of it and you’ve got to do what’s best for you and your family, but I would really love to have you here.’ Tobias (Harris) was calling me nonstop. We FaceTimed. We’re from the same area, so I know him well. We communicated throughout the process about what was going on. He’d say, ‘Look, man, you can’t go there. I can’t lose you to that team,’” Green said.
“He’d say, ‘We’re going to make it happen. We’re going to make something work.’ It was great to hear that throughout the process, great to talk to my teammates and see how excited they were that I’m back. We had a great group, we had a lot of fun on and off the court. We gelled together well. We had good chemistry,” Green continued. “We got along. A lot of those guys were excited and interested, and expressed that they wanted me back. And I’m glad I was able to come back, and we can hopefully do something special again this year.”
The Lakers are obviously also trying to do something special, and could even see the Sixers in the 2021 NBA Finals, depending on how the brackets and injury luck break down for both teams. If they do, they’ll be happy that some of their recruiting efforts worked out a little better than their ill-fated pitches to Green.
But even so, good on Howard for trying. On and off the floor, no one can say he’s not doing everything he can to help this team raise another banner.