He couldn’t stop talking about the carry.
This was Draymond Green’s first game back after his five-game suspension, with the Golden State Warriors forward completing his league-mandated discipline for dragging Rudy Gobert across the court as if he were playing hoops on a WWE stage. He was 13 months away from Jordan Poole’s infamous punch, six months away from Domantas Sabonis’ foot-stomp and two weeks away from Jusuf Nurkić’s swinging punch against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night that led to the NBA suspending him indefinitely the next day. And Green, whose struggling Warriors had led the Sacramento Kings for nearly all of their Nov. 28 rematch against playoff opponents, was again consumed by his own intensity.
Regardless of what was happening around him, Green kept talking about how Malik Monk palmed the ball as he came down the floor and, like so many thousands of NBA players before him, wasn’t penalized. He dramatically reenacted Monk’s carry for the officials — the same ones he spent nearly a minute before countering when a Trey Lyles elbow went uncalled and forced Green to flop — and drew a Mitchell Ervin technical foul who tipped the ball. energy in the building. But that didn’t stop Green from moving forward.
After Green was pulled from the game seconds later, he told Warriors coach Steve Kerr everything Monk had done. He continued his anti-carrying crusade on the bench, where Green engaged in a lively shouting match with player development coach Anthony Vereen that involved finger pointing in Green’s direction and was tense enough to shove Jonathan Kuminga and many others to decide to play the part of peacemakers. . Meanwhile, a Kings comeback from a 24-point deficit took place on the field. The frustration on the faces of several Warriors closers, including Klay Thompson, was quite visible. And with good reason.
Once again, as has happened so many times of late, Green was apparently obsessed with the micro instead of the macro. With the game, the season and the back end of their historic dynasty on the line, here was Green so emotionally twisted in that moment that he forgot to consider the long-term ramifications of his actions. The most surprising part, and the thing that seemed to leave the door wide open for incidents yet to come, was that Green was so comfortable being given this extra layer, as the guys say, even after the two ejections and five-game suspension who had already made life so unnecessarily hard for his team this season.
“The Warriors … have to keep their balance and play basketball,” TNT announcer Stan Van Gundy said on the telecast during that stretch, which led to the Kings’ 124-123 victory.
By “Warriors,” of course, I meant Green. And what they really need, with the Feb. 8 trade deadline looming, is to finally start answering the tough questions that everyone inside Chase Center seems to want to ignore.
Where is all this going? And with that record $400 million in payroll (including luxury taxes) looming over their heads, when will Warriors owner Joe Lacob decide it’s time for a significant change? As one front office executive put it in the wake of Green’s leveling of Nurkić, “I guess there’s some reevaluations (occurring now).”
But if winning titles is the ultimate goal for all of them — and it is — then the inconvenient truth is that this revered group of future Hall of Famers doesn’t seem capable of getting anywhere near it. They are getting beaten almost every night, having lost 12 of their last 17 games after a 5-1 start. They seem broken in ways that go far beyond the box score, with a litany of late-game situations going haywire during this brutal start. They look… cooked.
Everyone except Chef Curry, of course. And this is not enough.
Steph is still Steph, 35 and all. But the 33-year-old Thompson, whose looming free agency added another point of stress after he and the Warriors failed to reach an agreement on an extension, is having his worst year in more than a decade on both ends of the field. The 33-year-old Green, who was signed to a four-year, $100 million contract in the summer, can still play at a high level but is still an issue because (see above).
The production of Andrew Wiggins, whose resurgence was a key factor in the 2022 title run, has dramatically declined across the board. And how’s that for further uncertainty: You have a coach in Kerr whose contract expires after this season and a general manager in Mike Dunleavy Jr. who is in his first season filling those enormous shoes left by the late Bob Myers.
Everywhere I go these days, there are human reminders of how much the Warriors’ world has changed. Now you see Myers on the media front as an ESPN analyst, the retired Andre Iguodala heading the players union as executive director, and former Warriors player/front office executive Shaun Livingston joining his old teammate in the NBPA. These are all people who managed to get through to Green, men whose credibility came in handy during those many moments when a Green-inspired crisis inevitably arrived.
This is important, of course, because it is the absence of a calming effect that may force these Warriors to make difficult decisions sooner than they expected. It’s hard to keep trudging forward when the coals under your feet are so hot. You could see that dynamic play out in real time in the Sacramento game, where it was so clear that there was no one on this team—including Steph—who could persuade Green to shift his energy in a more positive direction for the good of the team . greater good.
We’ll never know what might have happened if the Warriors had taken a harder line with Green in recent years, particularly after Poole’s punch two Octobers ago. He was never suspended for that nasty act, as the Warriors decided instead to fine him, greenlighting a brief sabbatical that ended just in time for the start of the regular season. The league, which in that case showed deference to the Warriors’ celebrated culture and chose to let the organization handle the situation, remained on the sidelines.
In hindsight, it was clearly a mistake. A weak precedent was set, and the Warriors would then reaffirm their loyalty to Green by reinforcing him last summer not long before trading Poole to the Washington Wizards (in the three-team deal that brought them Chris Paul).
But it no longer matters how they got here. The frequency of incidents involving Green and the resulting near-constant tension for all involved make it difficult to imagine this group still walking off into the sunset of retirement together.
Not at this price. Not with these goals. And not, especially, with Green single-handedly sabotaging their twilight years like this.
The Warriors should consider moving on from the Draymond-vs.-NBA drama
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(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)