Draymond Green: Warriors ‘stupid’ to trade Jonathan Kuminga for LeBron James

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green says the franchise should keep Jonathan Kuminga, even if it costs LeBron James.

Draymond Green and Johnathan Kuminga

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for NBA players to address the trade rumors that they’ve found themselves in. Perhaps it’s a byproduct of the social media era, in which there’s almost a limitless flow of information and the ability to publicly respond to news instantaneously.

It may even be due to players feeling increasingly emboldened in their dialogue with both the media and fans.

Nonetheless, hearing veteran forwards Draymond Green and LeBron James address a head-turning rumor that the Golden State Warriors had reached out to the Los Angeles Lakers about James’s availability in trade was surprising.

According to reports, the Warriors inquired about James’s status as a trade candidate. The Philadelphia 76ers also made a call about James, which was also shut down. This marked the first time in James’s 21-year career that a team was fielding calls on his trade status, even if the Lakers had no intention of actually letting him go.

James, Green keep their poker face on

The media-savvy veterans know exactly when to withhold information

LeBron James All-Star Weekend

Just ahead of the 2024 All-Star Weekend, the NBA world collectively dropped their jaws when rumors surfaced about the Warriors having an interest in a LeBron James trade.

It makes plenty of sense, on paper. Both the Lakers and Warriors are struggling to stay in the playoff race, at the mercy of age and injuries. Furthermore, L.A. and Golden State’s supporting cast have been questioned, both in terms of their fit and their potential.

Subsequently, the idea that either squad was considering a major transaction with the trade deadline approaching was sensible. In fact, with both franchises feeling the pressure of maximizing the final years of their star’s careers, it was expected.

Yet, very few would have predicted that the Warriors were considering a trade for their former nemesis. Not that there’s any animosity between the two groups, as James has long been cordial if not friends with Green and Stephen Curry.

It’s simply not a common occurrence for the best team and the best player of this millennium to discuss teaming up.

To that point, according to Green and James, those discussions never reached their ears. In the case of Green, these comments are curious because he was originally cited as one of the driving forces in Golden State’s pursuit of James.

Perhaps even more interestingly, Green told reporters that it would be “stupid” for Golden State to trade Most Improved Player candidate Jonathan Kuminga for James.

One, it’s a surprising comment for Green to make consider James’s stature in the league when compared to Kuminga. Secondly, Kuminga had yet to be reported as a player the Warriors would have sent to L.A. in order to acquire the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

For his part, James addressed the rumors when asked about them by TNT Sports broadcast host Ernie Johnson, saying that the trade discussions “never got to” him.

“I heard about it when everyone else heard about it. Sometimes there’s conversations that happen behind closed doors that you don’t even know about. And until I guess if it’s real or not, then they’ll bring it to you. But it never even got to me.”-LeBron James on TNT.

Notably, it’s unlikely that either Green or James would be transparent on this topic at this time if the rumors were true. More likely to stir controversy than to put questions to bed, both have enough media savvy to know when to withhold information.

To that point, with both the Lakers and Warriors needing to right the ship in the second half of the season, neither will want to be embroiled in any more drama than they have to. While storylines may be entertaining to fans, they’re often a source of stress or discontentment for players and their teams.

Addressing Green’s comments

Would the Warriors be wise to prioritize Kuminga over James?

Draymond Green attempts to block LeBron James

From the 2023 offseason to today, Draymond Green has consistently singled out third-year forward Jonathan Kuminga as a player with the potential to be a key contributor for the Warriors.

Prior to the 2023-24 season, Green did this when discussing how Chris Paul could help Kuminga in the second unit. However, after a recent suspension led to Kuminga receiving sizable minutes, Green has been one of his most vocal supporters.

A bruising scorer at 6-foot-8 and 210 pounds, Kuminga is currently averaging career-highs of 15.5 points and 25.6 minutes per game. In his last 15 outings, he’s averaging 21.5 points in 32.5 minutes per game. Though he needs to develop into a more well-rounded player, Kuminga has been impressive offensively.

However, has he been so impressive that he should be untouchable in a trade for one of the league’s greatest players ever?

Kuminga has the advantage defensively. While his size and athleticism allow him to be a multipositional weapon on the defense end, his youthful energy is apparent when he flies around the court or matches up against would-be scorers.

James has the size, experience, athleticism, and basketball IQ to be a multipositional and multifaceted defender as well.

However, his defensive activity lags behind Kuminga’s.

On the other end, though 18 years his senior, James’s numbers eclipse Kuminga’s with 24.8 points, 7.8 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. A force of nature on his way to the rim, James also remains dangerous at all three levels, a characteristic that Kuminga seeks to match as he continues working on his jumper.

Lastly, James is a rare playmaker. He possesses court vision and passing instincts that will take Kuminga years to match, if ever.

Ultimately, when looking at their production and abilities, it’s unlikely that the Warriors would make Kuminga unavailable.

Also, consider that Golden State would have to trade Andrew Wiggins to the Lakers in order to make the deal work financially. Wiggins regained his respect as a former top pick with the Warriors, but he’s in the midst of his second up-and-down season.

As his value has dramatically depreciated over the past two seasons, L.A. could very well turn down a sign-and-trade that features him as the principal player in their return.

In essence, trading Kuminga may be necessary for Golden State if they want to poach James. Further, trading for James may be necessary if the Warriors want to win another championship with the current core.

 

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