Draymond Green

Draymond messing with NBA's next pot of gold in latest altercation

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Draymond Green will face another NBA suspension, perhaps longer than the last. And not because he’s hurting the Warriors, though he is. Certainly not because he clobbered Jusuf Nurkić, though he did.

It’s because, well, money.

And optics.

Draymond’s latest leap off the deep end of emotion came Tuesday night in a 119-116 loss to the Suns in Phoenix. This is another messing with NBA business. It’s the next pot of gold. Any player who jeopardizes current or future revenue will disappear for an extended period. Ask Ja Morant.

With media contracts ending after next season, the NBA is hip-deep in negotiations for TV contracts that begin in 2025. The league reportedly is pushing for fees in the range of $10 billion per season. Violence on the court is not a selling point.

The league excels at marketing its stars. Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Donćić have made a lot of money for the NBA. Largely because they match superior skill with likability. Image matters.

And, in the end, it not only benefits the league but also the players, whose salaries are directly related to revenue.

The sight of Green’s right forearm slamming against the face of Nurkić goes against everything the league wants to sell. The same could be said of Draymond wrapping his arm around the neck of Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert last month.

“I’m not one to apologize for things I meant to do,” Green told reporters in Phoenix. “But I do apologize to Jusuf. Even though I didn’t intend to hit him, I sell calls with my arms. I don’t fall to sell a call. I’m not a flopper. I was just selling the call because he was grabbing and pulling my hip. So, I spun away. And, unfortunately, I hit him.

“So, I apologize to Jusuf because I didn’t intend to hit him.”

The apology, in this instance, matters little. The intent, or lack thereof, matters even less. What matters to the NBA is the optics. This was Draymond involved in yet another incident that conveyed a horrible look for a league always sensitive about its reputation.

The entire play surely repulsed the millions who glimpsed it – none more than the powers that be in the league’s New York office. Joe Dumars, in particular. He’s the NBA’s executive vice president in charge of basketball operations. In short, he is the sheriff.

And he must be sick about this. Dumars’ relationship with Green goes back more than 20 years, when Draymond was a fan of the Pistons living in Michigan and Dumars was a great two-way guard for Detroit. They are, in some ways, like uncle and nephew.

It was less than four weeks ago that Dumars had a long, long chat with Draymond about the chokehold he put on Rudy Gobert. Dumars, according to league sources, made it clear he was concerned about the optics in relation to the league’s desire to secure new TV deals.

After several conversations with NBA officials, Dumars ultimately issued to Green a five-game suspension, not because he wanted to but because it was warranted.

And now, a few weeks later, Draymond is back in the NBA’s squad car awaiting his fate. The Warriors are, once again, back in roster limbo, uncertain when he’ll be back – but realizing they cannot reach their potential without him.

No matter how well the supporting cast performs, and was fantastic against the Suns, Golden State’s celebrated, decorated core – Klay Thompson, Curry and Green – will dictate how high this team flies.

“All the pieces fit for a reason,” Curry said. “They have for a very long time. So, when you’re missing one, it’s tough.

“We still had opportunities to win the game tonight . . . we want to be able to overcome the incident, his ejection, but we weren’t able to get it done. But we need everybody available. That’s how we’re built. It’s no secret.”

The Warriors have played 23 games. Draymond missed one game for personal reasons, two games with injury and was suspended from five. He was ejected from three of the 15 in which he played.

With his history as a repeat offender, Green’s latest brush-up will result in him missing a few more games. The league thought it made a statement last month. It’s trying to make deepen its pockets as well as those of the players.

That, however, was not enough. So, here comes another. The NBA is committed to doing all it can to ensure optics don’t get in the way of its money.

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