There are two types of journeymen in sports: the most common kind who either fail to meet or just meet expectations at every stop and find themselves looking for another opportunity every few years, and then the much more glamorous type who bet on themselves time and time again and always come out on top: outplaying their contracts every time and not being afraid to move frequently if that’s what it takes to get paid what they’re worth. Jamal Crawford is one of the easiest to call out now; he’s never been on a team for more than 5 seasons in a 20-year career (and he’s still hoping to play!) A couple of famous Heels litter the list of best journeymen ever, including near-definite HOFers like Vince Carter (24 seasons, max 7 with one team) and Bob McAdoo (17 seasons, max 5 with one team). And now, it looks like Danny Green will be the next to join their ranks.
Green, after a career resurgence and a happy 8-year tenure with the San Antonio Spurs that we’ve documented here a couple of times, is now on his third team in three years, so he’s not quite as detatched as the names above, but with his style of play, he’s probably nowhere near done being an NBA player. And the past two years, he’s done nothing but produce: In 2017-18, his last year with the Spurs, he started, provided great defense, and stuffed the stat sheet: while it wasn’t his best season, 8.6/3.6/1.6/1.1/0.9 on 36% shooting from behind the arc is definitely a positive contribution. Nevertheless, he was shipped as the decoration for the blockbuster Kawhi Leonard trade, where he messed around, averaged 10.3/4/1.6/0.9/0.7 while starting every game he played and continuing to lock down opponents’ perimeter threats, and got himself a second ring, in a contract year to boot. He decided to shop himself around this past offseason and earned himself a 2-year, 30 million dollar contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, increasing his previous paycheck by 50% and getting the opportunity to be a perimeter shooter on a LeBron James-led team.
Danny saw his first action as a Laker last night, and he went off: He was 10/14 (7/9 from three) to lead his team with 28 points, and chipped in 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block. He found several open looks and seemingly couldn’t miss, especially in the third quarter, where he tried to rally his squad with 18 points, including a perfect 5/5 from behind the arc. Ultimately, the Lakers fell short to their crosstown rival Clippers, 102-112, but if people weren’t talking about the Clippers legitimizing their title hopes, they were talking about how good Danny Green was. Obviously, 78% shooting from behind the arc isn’t sustainable, and as this Lakers team figures out how to play together, Green’s numbers will come down to Earth (how Anthony Davis played exactly 1 pick-and-roll possession will confuse me until my dying day), but right now, he’s a good bet to lead the NBA in VORP after everybody’s first game, and he’s going to continue to be a steadying presence in that squad with the same locker room stability and leadership that he has been known for, just like nearly all of Roy Williams’ NBA proteges, throughout his career. And if he can even keep up half the pace that he’s set for himself, in two years, Danny Green will have successfully bet on himself again, and manage to continue getting teams to pay him everything he’s already worth and more. Like Crawford, he’s likely not a Hall of Famer. But he’s definitely making what’s turning into a career of travels count for every penny, and just like Crawford, he’s carving out a heck of a career. Hopefully, we can see more explosions like last night along the way.