Draymond Green

Dunleavy's faith in Draymond suspension not derailing Warriors is risky

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SAN FRANCISCO – While those in the Warriors’ locker room are hoping and those on the coaching staff are praying, the general manager still believes.

That Draymond Green’s latest transgression is no more than a temporary bump for the Golden State express. That there is no sense the harmony said to be built in training camp is threatened.

“Honestly, not at all,” GM Mike Dunleavy said on NBC Sports Bay Area's "Warriors Pregame Live" on Thursday, before tipoff of the Warriors-Oklahoma City Thunder game at Chase Center. “We’re in a really good place. Our group is connected; they’re tight.”

It’s a risky statement coming after the events of Tuesday, when Draymond’s conduct resulted in a second consecutive ejection – and, this time, earned a five-game suspension from the NBA.

Coach Steve Kerr conceded that Green “crossed the line” when he came from the rear and wrapped his arm around the neck of the Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert and began pulling him backward.

The league studied the video, investigated the incident, and decided that the Warriors would lose one of the core veterans until Nov. 28.

“Obviously not great for us, disappointed for him, disappointed for our team,” Dunleavy said. “But life goes on. The league ruled what they did, and they have their reasons. We’ve got to move forward.”

It was Green’s conduct that in large measure prevented the Warriors, coming off an NBA Finals victory, from reaching their potential last season. The team fractured and there was no way to repair it.

Which is what prompted Dunleavy to trade Jordan Poole, whose entire presence was diminished when victimized by a Draymond preseason punch. With Poole going out and wily veteran Chris Paul coming in, the Warriors figured to rebuild the brotherhood that made them great.

Draymond, the team’s spiritual center, is a crucial ingredient to the mix. And he can’t lead if he’s not doing things that keep him not only off the floor but entirely out of the building.

He’s too valuable.

“I talked to Draymond,” Dunleavy said. “He understands. Unfortunately, he’s been in this situation before. And we have, too. We expect our guys to respond. We’ll give some other guys opportunities to step up in the next few games while he’s gone.

“The benefit of this is we have a very deep team. We have an opportunity to fill in and replace what we’re losing with Draymond, perhaps, but we’ll see how that goes. But it’s not great news on our end.”

It’s awful news for Golden State’s offense because Green is a terrific playmaker. It’s worse news for the defense because he’s an elite defender in every facet.

As for the locker room, well, it’s hard to say how Draymond’s absence, due to his inability to maintain composure, will be perceived.

“For Draymond, he walks that line of aggressiveness,” Dunleavy said. It’s hard to ask him to tone it down and dull it. If he gets too dull, then he’s not the great player that he is. That’s the challenge.”

That challenge, particularly now, is daunting. The Warriors are without Stephen Curry (right knee soreness) and Green, two men with complimentary leadership styles. Gary Payton II left the game Thursday night with a sprained left ankle. X-rays were negative, but he could miss some time.

Dunleavy is betting it will all come together – that Draymond will exercise better self-control – and the Warriors will reset and develop into a team with a chance to win big.

The GM believes what he believes. Even if it is at odds with Draymond’s history. Even if it requires a miraculous emotional adjustment.

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