If you believe pro locker rooms and clubhouses can incubate jealousy and acrimony, you’re no doubt fascinated by the hullabaloo going on between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors.
This doesn’t seem to be a case of boys being boys, an action-reaction kind of thing that quickly blows over with a hug and back slap. There appears to be something going on with these two all-stars and Olympic teammates and it bubbled over Monday when the Warriors were in Los Angeles to play the Clippers.
What began as a spat at the end of regulation, after Green mishandled preventing a last-second shot, spilled into the Warriors’ dressing room. Eyewitnesses said what happened wasn’t pleasant. Apparently, a number of Warriors players took Green to task for the play.
Watch the video: There’s Green gathering a rebound with a few seconds left. With no outlet, he dribbles the ball up the floor. There’s Durant feverishly asking for it before Green loses control as time expired.
Was it selfishness or a momentary lack of court awareness? One can be forgiven. What it did, however, was give the Clippers a second breath which they turned into a 121-116 overtime win.
It didn’t take the Warriors long to assign blame. Management gave Green a one-game suspension without pay on Tuesday. That means they viewed Green not only as the instigator, but the one who escalated the problem with a vigorous defense of his thought process.
So peeved was Durant that he quickly bolted the locker room. Remember, Green was one of the guys who wined and dined Durant during his free agency tour. What the heck is going on with these two?
“We just felt like this rose to the level of acting the way that we did,” said Warriors general manager Bob Myers before the team’s game Tuesday in Oakland. “That’s a decision that we have to make. I’m certainly involved in it, so is Steve [Kerr, the Warriors’ coach]. … This was something that required the action that we decided upon.”
Green’s petulance cost him $120,480. Jonas Jerebko scored 14 points with 13 rebounds in Green’s place as the Warriors beat the Atlanta Hawks 110-103.
In these days of high-finance drama in the NBA, you have to wonder how this may play into Durant’s decision about whether to pursue free agency after the season. He must know by now he is not the majordomo of the team. And maybe that bothers a player of status like himself.
That honor belongs to Steph Curry. Durant fits into the fabric with Green and Klay Thompson. That what makes the decision to fine Green, and not Durant, especially interesting. Could it be they sided with Durant to stay on his good side, knowing Green won’t be a free agent until after next season. He’ll be 30 by then and it could cost around $230 million to keep him.
“Knowing him (Green) for however many years I’ve known him, if caring too much is something that he struggles with, well, that’s who he is,” said Myers. “We felt that this action merited the decision we made, but I have every confidence that he can move forward with it, our team can move forward with it, our organization, our players. Because again, this is part of the NBA, this is part of what happens.”
The Warriors are in the midst of trying to win a third-straight league title. And they are in hurry because Thompson will also be a free agent, which means this star-studded nucleus may have an expiration date.
What has added to the drama is Durant’s admission after Tuesday’s win that he and Green still were not cool with each other, although he did say it wouldn’t be long before they had a conversation about what happened. Green is expected to be in the lineup Thursday when the Warriors play at Houston.
“I’m sure it will (be resolved),” said Durant. “We’ve got a long season ahead.
“I’m gonna keep that (what happened) in-house. That’s what we do here. I mean, obviously, I know you guys got a job to do, but I’m not trying to give nobody no headlines. What happened, happened. We’re trying to move on – just trying to play basketball.”
The Warriors understand how Green is viewed in the league. He is highly-emotional, a technical machine, who often loses his temper. This just reinforced what’s already clear.
“Draymond is always going to be who he is,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “Draymond is a powerful force. You guys know that. He’s a huge reason why we’ve had so much success here, and Draymond is going to continue playing the way he plays, and I don’t see him operating any other way.”
Thompson’s opinion was predictable.
“A win on Thursday (will solve things), ” said Thompson. “And a win on Saturday and Sunday. Once we go on a little win streak it will not matter. And this will be in the past like a ponytail.”
“They’re grown, they’ll be fine,” Thompson said. “I love both of those guys, and at the end of the day, we’re on the same team, with the same goal, and that’s the three-peat. I don’t think either of them will lose sight of that, whether it’s personal agenda or whatever. I think we’ll get far past it, and we’ll get to that goal eventually, hopefully.”