Well, this is certainly interesting.
In most cases, it's not really news when a player turns down their player option and becomes an UFA. It's basically a formality. We tend to only see players pick up their player option when they are older, or coming off injury, or don't think they'll get that money on the market. There's also the chance that someone opts in just to be traded at that current salary number (like Porzingis might do), but in most cases a player turns down their player option so they can secure another longer term deal. As a reminder, here are all the player option guys left heading into this summer
You go up and down this list, and I can't imagine anyone outside of Porzingis (if there's a trade) is going to opt in. Why would they? Guys like Trent Jr, Kuzma, Clarkson, Hart, DiVencenzo, and Brown Jr, all outplayed their current deal in my opinion. Middleton is looking for an extension in MIL, so to do that he needs to turn his down. Harden wants a new deal, so it's the same thing there as well. Rudy Gay probably picks his up because he's 1,000 years old, and Oladipo probably does because he's injured.
Draymond's situation is a little more unique. He's been on record saying he wants a max extension, and last summer when the Warriors decided not to do it, we got this
Here's where things get tricky. Steph Curry has also been vocal about how he wants the Warriors to pay whatever in order to keep the core together for one more push. Given that they just won a title, it's not as if the window is closed on GS. Assuming so would be silly. But there's one part of that Shams tweet that I think we have to remember. Ah yes, Klutch Sports…
A move like this now puts all the pressure on the Warriors. Either you pay Draymond the contract he wants, or you now lose him for nothing and have no real way of replacing him without pulling off a trade. That's not exactly operating from a position of leverage, so chances are the Warriors would have to overpay in any sort of deal. You don't really get the sense that the team is ready to hand the keys over to Jonathan Kuminga as the Draymond replacement, so they are in a bit of a pickle if Draymond walks.
Knowing he's probably not getting more than $27M a year on the open market this summer, a move like this tells me Draymond is down to go somewhere else if the Warriors don't pony up, even if that means it's for less money. Would it shock anyone if he took that lower deal to join LeBron and the Lakers after all the flirting they've done over the last few years? What about someone like the Mavs? I suppose there's a chance that he could go back to GS and negotiate a team friendly deal as a way to keep the core together, but that might just be wishful thinking from Warriors fans. The Warriors' cap situation is already fucked with or without Draymond, so why would he take less?
My gut tells me that at the end of the day, the Warriors will keep Steph Curry happy and will find a price that Draymond is cool with. I know Twitter right now is claiming this is the end of the Warriors Dynasty, but I'll believe that when I see it. I'm going to have to see th Shams bomb that Draymond is leaving GS before I actually think that's what is about to happen. This is mostly just a leverage play, and now Draymond has it.