While Danny Green – perhaps Kawhi Leonard's closest teammate, having paired him to win championships in San Antonio and Toronto – was waiting for Leonard's decision last week, he was in the dark just like the rest of the world.
Except that he was pretty sure of one thing: Leonard would not join the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I think all of this has been a shock to me," Green said in a teleconference with reporters Thursday. "Except that Kawhi was not so shocked to go to L.A. The Clippers, anyway, I did not see him coming by that road. [to the Lakers].
"I have the impression that he wanted to follow his own way.I think it was between them and coming back.I think about the year that he has and what these fans have brought this season and all that has been difficult for him to refuse and leave Toronto But I knew he wanted to be closer to home. "
Leonard, a native of Riverside, Calif., Orchestrated Paul George's trade of the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Clippers backstage, dismissing the Lakers – who had $ 32 million waiting for him – and the Raptors, who wanted to retain the MVP of the 2019 final and defend his title. And Green became the first target of the Lakers.
Shortly after Leonard informed the Lakers that they were irrelevant, LA spun to offer Green a $ 30 million contract over two years, and followed this deal by entering into agreements with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope , JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso and Quinn Cook. , DeMarcus Cousins and possibly Avery Bradley to complete the list.
Green, a 10-year veteran with a 40.4% career mark on 3 points, said choosing the Lakers was easy.
"It was not very difficult, man," he said. "James [James] and Anthony Davis are here. Obviously, when you are with a winning team and you have won, you want to send it back if it is possible. But that would not happen. And even if it happened, I do not think that they had room for me there [in Toronto]. So you go to the next best team you think in the league is and it was here. "
Not that waiting until he made that decision was not awful. Free agents could start negotiations with potential teams on June 30th. Leonard did not make his choice until July 5th. And Green – knowing that he could get a nice salary waiting for him in Los Angeles if Leonard did not form a super-team with James and Davis – had no choice but to make the queue until Leonard hits his agency ticket first.
"These five days seemed to last five months," he said. "And every day that went by, I was checking with Whi and I thought," Yo, what's up with your meeting? " have a meeting tomorrow, so like, "Tomorrow? So I have to wait another day? "You think that one day, it goes pretty fast, but the way it was going, the way I was talking to it, you'd think it was a week. Like: "I have to wait another day, dude ?!"
Green, who played alongside James in Cleveland during his rookie season in 2009-10 and then played in the NBA's playoff finals when James played for the Miami Heat, is happy to see him in action. to be back among the four titles of the most useful player.
"I've had the chance to play with him, play against him, compete and now compete with him," Green said. "It's like going all the way in. It's crazy how certain things work."
Rather than coming back with the Raptors or playing for another Dallas Maverick Texas team, showing interest, Green will now be part of the Staples Center Lakers and Clippers' series of corridors against his former friend from Leonard. . .
"I think it's going to be a lot of fun," he said. "I think it's a rivalry that goes back to what it was before.But I think both teams are very good on paper, we have to see how it's getting ready." I think it will be Something that is going to become something, hopefully it's something that is amazing for the fans.I'm excited about it.You never know, it could be two teams in Los Angeles who will face each other. [in the playoffs] that we would not have to travel anywhere. It could be interesting. "
Although he feels lucky to have landed on the Lakers, Green says Leonard and George have felt that they've also managed a fast.
"After a brief conversation with them, they think they're lucky," Green said. "Nobody knew it, I did not know anything about it, I checked with [Leonard] All the time. He did not give me any updates. I did not know where he was going. "