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New Warriors GM says ‘we have to have’ Green next NBA season

Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors drives to the basket. Photo: Thearon W. Henderson / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

New Golden State Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. said Monday the club wants four-time NBA champion Draymond Green to return after reports he will opt out of his contract.

Green will decline his player option for a $27.6 million deal next season, ESPN and The Athletic reported, in order to become an unrestricted free agent.

Dunleavy Jr., a former Warriors player whose father was an NBA player and coach, was named Friday to replace Bob Myers, who said last month he was stepping down after assembling a squad that won NBA titles in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2022.

“Until we get the paperwork and the file, we can’t really comment or say too much,” said Dunleavy, who then made it clear that keeping Green is a priority, something Warriors coach Steve Kerr has already declared.

“We really want Draymond back,” said Dunleavy. “What he means in terms of this organization and this team, winning at the highest level, we feel like we have to have him. So that’s very important.”

Green, a 33-year-old forward, is a four-time NBA All-Star and 2017 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He punched teammate Jordan Poole at training camp in a spat that hung over the club much of the season.

Green averaged 8.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.0 steals a game last season, when defending champion Golden State lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the playoffs.

Dunleavy likes the Warriors’ chances of remaining competitive despite an aging roster and salary cap issues, citing the desire of majority owner Joe Lacob to put a winner on the floor.

“A lot can be made of all the challenges that are coming our way, whether it be aging roster, the new CBA (collective bargaining agreement) with some of the limitations there, anything else you can bring up,” Dunleavy said.

“We’re aware of all those things but we also feel like we’re in a great place because we’ve got a competitive owner willing to spend, a group that’s tied in, has good synergy, good processes, sound decision making — we feel confident we can navigate it.”

The Warriors reportedly spent a record $346 million on the 2022 championship season roster in salary and luxury tax payouts.

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