The flip side for Green, though, is the possibility of him applying pressure to the Thunder. Should Green assemble a dominant season, his price tag could shoot up and price OKC right out of the bidding. The Thunder has the right to match any offer Green receives. But with Russell Westbrook up for an extension next summer, and James Harden, Serge Ibaka and Eric Maynor due in 2012, the Thunder can't afford to match a high-dollar deal. The Jazz saw up-and-coming guard Wes Matthews, now with Portland, walk because of that exact scenario. Utah, however, also retained C.J. Miles by matching when the Thunder attempted to sign him as a restricted free agent two summers ago.
Simply put, how much another team offers Green next summer will determine whether he remains in a Thunder uniform beyond this season. Oklahoma City's front office has had few missteps, and it's unlikely that one of the most disciplined franchises will overpay to retain Green at the risk of jeopardizing the rest of its young nucleus.
But the bond between Green and the Thunder is a strong one, dating to his surprising, and questioned, selection as the fifth overall pick.
Since joining Durant as the franchise's first two cornerstones, Green has endeared himself to the coaching staff and managerial staff. He's earned a reputation for being both the consummate teammate and valuable because of his versatility.
Green on several occasions has voiced his desire to stay with the Thunder, and it's not far-fetched to think he would take less money to remain with a winning team. San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili and Miami's Udonis Haslem both recently agreed to re-sign with their respective teams for less money than they could have received elsewhere.
Must Green follow suit to stick around?
That answer will now be revealed next summer.