The rise of Danny Green
AT&T CENTER – Last season during the exhibition slate, a moment went by that I didn’t quite grasp the significance. It was still preseason and Gary Neal was theoretically battling Kirk Penney for the role of gunner off the bench. Before the game, the Spurs played their jumbotron intro video for the first time, the one that would be used for the regular season. In it, Gary Neal was featured with the team. I made a comment about it on Twitter at the time, but didn’t make much of a deal of it. I got an email from Tim Varner the next morning essentially saying “hey, this is a bigger deal than you think.” Sure enough, Neal made the team and is the Gary Neal we know and love today. I’m not falling for that same trick twice.
Really, it’s not that hard to edit someone’s part out of the video. I’m sure the folks who do that sort of thing for the Spurs have the raw file handy to make updates and tweaks as needed. But that’s not the point. The point is that they included him before it was absolutely necessary.
Last night was fan appreciation night at the AT&T Center. With it being the last regular season home game of the year, everything was geared towards the fans. The timeout contests involved the fans more than usual, the players wore special warm-up t-shirts, etc. They also had one of the players address the fans before the game and thank them for their support. The Spurs chose Danny Green.
Part of me thought “no big deal.” It was just 30 seconds or so of saying to the crowd what we all hope that the players feel. At the same time, though, Green being the one to address the crowd speaks volumes as to where he stands with this franchise now and may foreshadow how much the front office is going to do to keep him around.
“I don’t know if I was the first one to be picked or asked,” Green told me after the game, “but I thought it was an honor.”
Green then knocked down all six of his field goals, including all four 3-pointers, and tied for the team lead with 18 points.
Danny Green came into this season on an unguaranteed deal, but after Manu Ginobili went down with a broken hand early in the season, he stepped up and not only solidified a place in the rotation, he’s made himself a starter. In his third season in the league, he’s averaging 9.2 points per game and hitting 43% of his 3s, all while picking up some importante defensive responsibilities. Essentially, he’s doing everything the Spurs want of him.
Green’s deal is up after this season, and the Spurs can make him a qualifying offer of a little over $1 million for next season (According to ShamSports). This would make Green a restricted free agent, meaning any team can make an offer to Green and the Spurs have the option to match that contract and retain Danny. This would be a way for the Spurs front office to let the market dictate how much Green is worth, but they can also agree to a new contract without extending a qualifying offer. That is, if both parties want to continue this relationship.
With how disappointing the James Anderson era has been, Danny Green’s emergence as rotation player and franchise ambassador couldn’t have come at a better time, for both Green and the Spurs.
“Hopefully it’s another step in [the Spurs] seeing me here for a while.”