Draymond Green was extremely contrite in a Saturday news conference necessitated by the altercation he had with Warriors teammate Jordan Poole during a practice session earlier in the week. Player disagreements are common — even, as head coach Steve Kerr argued, those that lead to blows. That said, any mending of fences that the longtime starter tried to do the day after — and promises to continue doing — became complicated after video of him throwing a punch that landed squarely in the jaw was made public. The suddenness and violence of the action he took then became fodder for all and sundry, placing the blue and yellow under a microscope.
Green understood the consequences of what he did, especially in the context of it going beyond Warriors confines. As he noted, “I watched the video 15 times, maybe more, because when I watched the video, I’m like, ‘yo, this looks awful.’ This looks even worse than I thought it was. It’s pathetic.” And so the “mutual decision” was for him to take a leave of absence for the foreseeable future. “I’m going to continue to stay away, as I’ve been away, and continue to do work on myself, but also just give guys space … I want to give Jordan some space, and then also take a few days and continue to work on myself.”
Under the circumstances, it’s fair to wonder if Green would have been asked to spend time away from the Warriors had the video not been leaked. Prior to TMZ releasing the footage, general manager Bob Myers noted that the four-time All-Star had already apologized to the team, Poole included, and that any penalties arising from his transgression would be dealt with in-house. “These things happen. Nobody likes it, we don’t condone it, but it happens.” That said, it’s evident that the road to recovery will not be easy. Once again, he was out of line; he had previously cost them Game Six of the 2016 National Basketball Association Finals and, perhaps, Kevin Durant. And, once again, he had to regain the trust and respect needed for everyone to move on.
Make no mistake. Green was, and is, integral to the Warriors’ championship aspirations. On the other hand, they’re in a financial crunch that compels them to ponder their future without him. He’s 32 and on the wane, with a player option after the 2022-23 season. Meanwhile, Poole is slated to be rewarded with a contract extension similar to that which fellow 2019 draft pick Tyler Herro received from the Heat. And as much as they would be willing to take on $400-million-plus payrolls, the time is coming — or, to be more precise, has already come — for them to see how they can ease the burden on their coffers.
Green insisted in his presser that contract talks had nothing to do with the incident. However, he did acknowledge that “I was in a very, very bad space mentally … As a leader of this team, I needed to have a better feel for myself and just know and understand where my wick’s end was and what could possibly push me the wrong way. Frankly, I didn’t handle that well and I failed as a leader. I failed as a man, and I failed as a leader.” What an understatement, and one that figures to complicate aims of the defending titleholders to keep the Larry O’Brien Trophy in their grasp.