The Warriors' decision to part ways with young guard Jordan Poole this offseason was anything but easy.
Poole's breakout 2021-22 NBA season helped Golden State secure its fourth championship in eight seasons and the then-23-year-old was rewarded with a four-year, $128 million contract extension later that summer. However, just months later, Poole was punched by Warriors teammate Draymond Green during a preseason practice last fall, which set the tone for an inconsistent and rocky fourth season with the team.
After averaging a career-high 20.4 points per game during the 2022-23 regular season, Poole struggled mightily in the playoffs and was traded to the Washington Wizards in exchange for veteran point guard Chris Paul earlier this summer.
Warriors owner Joe Lacob joined The Athletic's Tim Kawakami on the latest episode of "The TK Show" podcast, where he was asked if the Warriors ultimately had to decide between keeping either Poole or Green because of where the two players' relationship stood.
"I don't want to say absolutely that's true, I think it's fair to say there was some level of concern going forward whether that would be something that would work out," Lacob told Kawakami. "To be honest with you, I think it would have worked out and could have worked out. But I think it is fair to say, in order to make the numbers work next year, someone is probably going to be the odd man out. It just turned out, and it wasn't planned, that it was Jordan. I really think Jordan's a great player and we're going to miss him. I know he had a tough playoffs, but he actually had a pretty good year."
Green admitted his altercation with Poole negatively impacted the Warriors' season and knew he had to repair the relationship moving forward. Lacob believes if the two still were on the same team, that they could have figured out a way to coexist.
"It just turned out that way, we were able to get something back that we thought near-term could really help us get better and helps us financially, in the books gives us optionality," Lacob explained to Kawakami. "So it wasn't that they couldn't play together. I'm sure everyone knows, it's well chronicled what the issues were during the course of the year, but my guess is they would have worked that out if we did something differently and Jordan and Draymond both were still here."
Golden State Warriors
Poole will get a fresh start as a key piece of the Wizards' offense, while Green will remain with the Warriors for four more seasons in search of a fifth championship.
The former teammates will be reunited on the court when the Warriors take on the Wizards on Dec. 22 at Chase Center.