Draymond Green

Warriors sticking with Draymond presents risk-reward equation

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SAN FRANCISCO – Long ago the Warriors made the decision that they were willing to put up with Draymond Green’s often wild and wacky antics because of all the positives that be brought to the court.

After yet another crazy chapter in Green’s NBA career that included punching a teammate and getting into a pair of altercations with opponents that led to two league-mandated suspensions, Golden State coach Steve Kerr sees no reason to change the team’s approach with the four-time All-Star.

“I have so much faith in Draymond because I know him so well as a human being,” Kerr told reporters at Chase Center on Thursday. “He’s flawed. We’re all flawed. But he would be the first to tell you, he’s probably more flawed than the rest of us. He’s the one who’s had these transgressions, not the other guys. It’s been him.

“But he’s one of the most loyal people I’ve ever met. He’s one of the most competitive, he’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever been around. And yet he makes these decisions that hurt the team, that aren’t smart, so how do you reconcile all of that? It’s really difficult.”

Green’s first suspension came after he grabbed Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert in a chokehold from behind while allegedly trying to come to the aid of teammate Klay Thompson, who also had been in a dust-up with Gobert.

Less than a month later Green got into it with Phoenix Suns’ big man Jusuf Nurkic and was disciplined by the NBA, which handed down a suspension that initially was indefinite before getting lifted after 16 games.

The Warriors went 10-11 in the games that Green missed while serving his suspensions, a fact that became even more glaring when Golden State struggled just to get the final play-in spot in the Western Conference before getting bounced out of the postseason by the Sacramento Kings earlier this week.

Had the Warriors won four of the 11 games they lost while Green was out, they would have avoided the play-in games entirely and would have been locked in as the No. 5 or 6 seed.

Yet the Warriors don’t consider the price they have often had to pay too much even as the incidents left ramifications that rippled throughout the Warriors’ organization.

This all came not long after the highly publicized confrontation between Green and then-Warriors teammate Jordan Poole during a preseason practice in 2022. The two men exchanged heated words before Green punched Poole in the face.

Despite a national outcry from fans and the media, Green never was disciplined by the Warriors. Poole eventually left town in a trade to the Washington Wizards.

Kerr thought that not suspending or fining Green for the Poole incident was the right thing to do at the time, and he still does.

It’s the same risk-reward thinking that the Warriors always have had with one of the foundational pieces to their four NBA championships.

“The number one thing I would say is if we decided he wasn’t worth it then we would have moved off of him years ago,” Kerr said. “But he’s worth it. He’s worth it not only because of the (championship) banners that are hanging out there but because he really is a wonderful human being. He is somebody who I love deeply, who I care for. In some ways I love him because of his flaws because he’s so human.”

Green has had a history of emotional and explosive outbursts as a pro. He’s been slapped with 153 technicals during his 12-year NBA career, which is the fifth most among players who have debuted over the last 25 years Green also has been ejected 31 times, leading all players over that span.

“What happened over the last year was it went from maybe him yelling at me and us getting into a tiff or him getting ejected or him running up his technicals or getting a flagrant foul, to wait a second, it turned violent,” Kerr said. “He punched Jordan. He grabbed Rudy Gobert by the neck. He flailed at Nurk. That stuff, that is just by basic laws of society, basic norms, you can’t do that. At that point when the league suspended him it was the best thing to happen to Draymond.

“His career was on the line and it is on the line every day.”

The Warriors have put up with it all because of Green's value on the court. He was a pillar of the four title-winning teams, got honored as the NBA Defensive Player of the Year for the 2016-17 season and will go down in franchise history as one of the best to ever lace ‘em up.

Kerr’s compassion for Green extends beyond what happens on the court. During their decade-long relationship, the two men have formed a genuine and lasting friendship that might have grown stronger while Green was undergoing counseling while serving out his second suspension of the 2023-24 season.

The two have bonded so closely that Kerr barely flinched when Green got ejected less than four minutes into a pivotal game against the Orlando Magic in March while the Warriors still were fighting to get into the postseason,

“As someone who loves Draymond and values him so much, I am going to continue to help him any way that I can to live his best life, to be the best version of himself, which he really was for the last two months,” Kerr said. “He had the ejection in Orlando, which became a national story. I don’t know, maybe it’s just because I understand him so well. I didn’t mind the ejection. Yeah it was bad timing but if you want to embrace the fact that Draymond is this insane competitor who is just going to play with so much emotion and passion, which makes our team so much better, then you kind of have to accept, ‘OK he’s going to get kicked out of a few games here.’

“The other stuff can’t happen. The physical acts, that will cost him his career, not only in the NBA but beyond. And he knows that. Draymond’s complex. His relationship with our franchise is complex. But at the core of it is a deep loyalty and passion and love. We share that with him. That’s really tricky to reconcile. You almost don’t even try to reconcile it. You help him through it and you make sure he’s the best version of himself and you keep pushing.”

While the Dubs have no intention of coming down hard on Green if more happens in the future, they do plan to tighten the leash a little.

“He did cross the line with the stuff that happened early in the season,” Kerr said. “He knows it, and the rest of his career he knows the league won’t allow him to cross it. We won’t allow him to cross that line again because that was different. He can yell at me all he wants, he can get ejected, he can get technicals. But that’s where it has to stop.”

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