By Melissa Rohlin
FOX Sports NBA reporter
Danny Green always thought this could happen.
So when Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka let him know they were going to trade him and the No. 28 pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Dennis Schroder earlier this month, Green wasn’t taken aback.
“I wasn’t shocked,” Green told FOX Sports. “I was just seeing where I was going. I was like, OK. Obviously, everybody is getting better. And I knew even when I signed (in LA), the contract that I signed for was going to be hard to maintain, was going to be hard to stabilize, especially with the pieces.”
The Lakers signed Green to a two-year, $30 million deal last July, wanting to add a veteran sharp-shooter with championship experience and defensive grit to a roster built around superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Green, who the Thunder went on to deal to the Philadelphia 76ers, acknowledged he was hoping to return to the Lakers after helping them win their first NBA championship in a decade at Walt Disney World in Florida in October.
Danny Green joins Colin Cowherd in the video above to discuss winning his third NBA championship with his third different team.
“Of course, any time you get a chance to win with a team, you want to try to run it back with that team,” said Green, who also won championships in 2019 with the Toronto Raptors and 2014 with San Antonio Spurs. “You make a home with the organization, the team, the players, the roster and within the city. Obviously, it’s up and down with the city and the fans and things like that.
“But I built a home and I loved the area where I was living. Nobody likes to move. I think anybody would want to go back, especially with winning and a great city like that. But at the same time, I’m not mad about it. … I know exactly what I signed up for before I got here.”
For Pelinka, it was a move that was a long time in the making. He had tried to pursue the 27-year-old Schroder before, knowing he’d give the Lakers another elite playmaker to ease the load on the team’s stars.
“We never want to just settle and I think this was an opportunity to get better,” Pelinka said Nov. 19. “It’s hard to lose a player like Danny. He was an ultimate professional and really filled a great role for us and played well. But overall, we just feel like this addition of a younger player to our core and for the future was something that we couldn’t pass on.”
The 33-year-old Green gets it.
He was appreciative of the time he spent with the Lakers and the investment they made in him.
“There’s no love lost at all,” Green said. “You know, they gave me a contract that I never dreamed that I would ever get, and playing in a city I never thought I would play for and winning a championship. It just so happens that you can’t maintain that; that’s hard to do that. But I got a championship, I got a ring and I did get an unbelievable contract. I couldn’t dream as a kid — I never thought I’d be making that in my life.”
Green was a casualty in what has been a very active offseason for the Lakers. In addition to signing Schroder, they added former Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, Wesley Matthews and three-time All-Star Marc Gasol.
Meanwhile, the 76ers have made some major changes, hiring former general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, as the President of Basketball Operations and head coach Doc Rivers, who helmed the Clippers for seven seasons. They also went on to add Green and Seth Curry to help space the court for their young superstars Ben Simmons, 24, and Joel Embiid, 26.
Green believes he can have a big impact on that team.
“I don’t set any individual goals, what I’m looking at is team goals,” Green said. “I want this team to have 50, 60 wins. I want two or three guys on the All-Defensive team. I want to get two or three All-Stars on our team. There’s no reason why we can’t have two or three All-Stars on our team.
“And there’s no reason why we can’t be the last team standing or at least make the Finals. So these are the goals that I see for our group.”
In the video above, FOX Sports Chris Broussard explains why the additions of Danny Green and Seth Curry are perfect fits for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Green is looking at himself as a coach of sorts for the 76ers, who were considered title contenders last season but were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs after Simmons suffered a season-ending left knee injury in August.
“It’s my job to not only individually be better, but to as a group make us better,” Green said. “And that’s putting confidence in the young guys, making sure they know what we need to do, what it takes with Joel and Ben. And having [Simmons] have confidence in himself to shoot that jump shot because I know he can do it. … And get Tobias [Harris] on board, playing both sides of the ball.
“Those are the things that they brought me in to do, not just play my role, but coach these guys to be ready for when the time comes so that when we compete, we’re one of the last teams standing.”
As for the Lakers, Green acknowledged they lacked offensive consistency last season, but he couldn’t help but wonder what that team could’ve grown into with a little more time.
Sure, they had the best record (52-19) in the West and snapped a six-season playoff drought en route to winning the title, but Green thinks they could’ve been even better.
“Obviously, we had a great season, but I feel like we still never reached our peak,” Green said. “It’s because certain pieces may not fit, certain pieces take a little longer to adjust and gel. And who knows what we could’ve been if we had everybody back another year. But because we didn’t have that good chemistry offensively, they’re going to make changes. They’re going to find pieces that fit better or that they think fits better.”
James and Davis averaged a combined 51.4 points a game, nearly half of the team’s 113-point average. And they combined for 13.4 assists a game, more than half of the team’s 25.4-assist average.
With James about to turn 36, the Lakers needed to get him some help.
“They were actively looking for a playmaker throughout the end of the year last year,” Green said. “We tried to bring in Dion [Waiters], we tried to bring in some other guys. WIth the loss of [Rajon] Rondo and the loss of Dion and some other guys, they had to find another fit to give ‘Bron a rest, et cetera.
“So they’re going to try to make moves to get better, and I wasn’t shocked that they were going to look for a guy like Dennis Schroder. Unfortunately, obviously, I had to be on the other end of it. But it’s part of the business. So be it. It’s how it goes.
“When it happened, I talked to a couple of people beforehand, so it wasn’t a blindside. I talked to R.P. [Rob Pelinka], he told me there’s going to be rumors about this, that and the other. They told me when they were going to make the trade before the trade actually officially happened. So, like I said, I wasn’t blindsided by it.”
That being said, it was definitely a bit of a whirlwind.
After all, Green didn’t know where he was going to land.
“I knew that when OKC happened, I wasn’t sure I was going to stay there,” Green said. “Even when Philly happened, I wasn’t sure if there was going to be more movement because you just know how this league is, teams are making moves. But I’m happy where I’m at. I like Philly.”
Over his 11-season career, Green went from playing for three different G-League teams to establishing himself as a widely respected role player who has now won championships with three different franchises.
Gregg Popovich, who coached Green on the Spurs from 2010-2018, was quick to weigh in after his latest title. He sent Green a congratulatory text message that included a joking jab.
“Tell LeBron and A.D. to play some more defense,” Popovich wrote, according to Green.
But despite the Lakers’ success, last season was a bit of a struggle for Green.
In fact, he called it the toughest stretch of his professional career.
There was the preseason drama in China, the deaths of former NBA commissioner David Stern and Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest and playing in a bubble near Orlando.
Green struggled with his shot, shooting 36.7 percent from beyond the 3-point line, a significant dip from the 45.5 percent he shot from that distance with the Raptors in 2018-2019.
But things became deeply personal when Green received death threats after missing an open 3-pointer against the Miami Heat in a potential series-clinching Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Green said the threats extended to his fiancée, his close friends and even his podcast partners on “Inside The Green Room.” He quickly moved past them, instead choosing to focus on the incredible support he received from his family and friends during that trying time.
“It shows that people really care about my mental health and how I’m doing and know that it’s just a basketball game at the end of the day,” Green said. “They don’t judge me by how I perform on the court, even though us, as competitors, as athletes, we’re our biggest critics and want to do better.
“So I have to go out and prove myself again, time and time again. So this year is about that. And bouncing back as a player, as an individual.”
Even though Green has had success on the biggest of stages, he knows fans often have a very short memory.
“You’re as good as your last game,” Green said. “Regardless of what you’ve done, people are going to remember you as your last game. And now all of the sudden, I’m known as a guy that’s not a shooter. You know what I’m saying? The memes, the jokes. Now it’s me and Ben Simmons. It’s OK, we hear it, we see it.”
He’s going to use that as fuel this season.
And also as a teaching opportunity for his new teammates.
Even though Philadelphia wasn’t where he expected to land, Green, who is from New York, said things have worked out well for him.
The 11-year veteran is looking forward to helping teach his new team how to succeed.
“I look at all the positives,” Green said. “So, I’m not far from home where my family is. I think we have some good guys on the roster, some good pieces and players and a good coaching staff that we can make some good things happen in the Eastern Conference.”
Melissa Rohlin is an NBA reporter for FOX Sports. She has previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News.
Get more from National Basketball Association Add to your favorites to get information about games, news and more.