Draymond's punch to Poole has layers of issues for Warriors


Everything was par for the course, until it wasn't. At all. 

As first reported by The Athletic, Warriors teammates Draymond Green and Jordan Poole found themselves in an incident at practice on Wednesday with Green striking Poole. Video obtained by TMZ Sports and released Friday morning showed Green punching Poole in the face, opening a new floodgate of issues.

One week before starting his 11th season in the NBA, Green again finds himself having to earn back the trust of his Golden State coaches, teammates and the organization as a whole. General manager Bob Myers, head coach Steve Kerr and star Steph Curry all had to answer questions regarding the situation instead of talking about the season at hand. Myers had the demeanor of another sad day for the franchise. Kerr was pissed. Curry was far from his smiling self. 

All didn't condone any reports that Poole has been a problem in training camp, making that as clear as possible

"He'll tell ya, he's been over that line," Myers said Thursday of Green, one day before the video was leaked. "You know it. But he always comes back, and he's a unique guy. Without him, we don't win. I want to win, our ownership wants to win, our players want to win. Our players want him on the team, and if you play, that's the most important thing. Nobody's saying 'We don't want him around, we don't want him on the team.' They know what he does, they know what he means.

"Yesterday wasn't a good moment. That's the bottom line, it wasn't."

Myers reiterated how Green always finds a way to redeem himself. He apologizes, he grows and earns trust back. 

That's the hope and expectation going forward, and Draymond did apologize to his Warriors teammates Thursday before exiting the building. 

"I think he'll find a way to earn the respect of his teammates and Jordan back, but that's the work he has to do," Myers said. 

This is all on Green. Let's make that clear. There's two sides to a story, but one person throwing a punch on video.

Jawing happens. From the playgrounds to high school, college and the pros, trash talk is a part of a player's DNA. Green is at the top of the list when it comes to the game's greats at it. Poole, though much different in his demeanor, isn't one to to shy away from talking his talk either.

He has had that confidence since he first walked into the building, and has only earned it more by walking the walk and turning into a breakout star. 

The video, one without sound, shows there's chatter during a scrimmage. That happens, that's the normal part. But then, Green is the instigator walking towards Poole with the two coming chest to chest. The talk first goes to action with Poole pushing Green. It escalates to the line being more than crossed with Draymond lunging forward, punching and connecting with Poole's face before being restrained and pulled off his teammate. 

Don't act like that's normal. It isn't. Arguments have been made about fist fights happening at practice, no matter the level. I've witnessed it at the college level. The two aren't the same. These are professional athletes. This is a business. 

Draymond is 32 years old, nearly 10 years older than Poole. He was 25 when he and Kerr got into a heated tirade during halftime of a 2016 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. And he was 28 when he and Kevin Durant found themselves in a sideline fracas that resulted in a one-game suspension from the Warriors. 

There's a reason the infamous incident of Michael Jordan punching Kerr during a practice when the two were Chicago Bulls teammates still is talked about today, and it isn't just because of Jordan's name and status. Trash talk happens, pushing happens. Fist fights between teammates aren't a daily activity. 

When Bobby Portis punched teammate Nikola Mirotic in the face during a practice in 2017, Portis was suspended eight games by the Bulls and Mirotic missed 23 regular-season games after being hospitalized. Poole finished practice and got his post-practice workout in. The Warriors are lucky his condition isn't worse. Myers stated the team will handle discipline for Draymond "internally" and don't expect him to miss any games. 

Those statements also came before TMZ Sports somehow obtained video of the altercation for all of the public to see.

The GM believes the punch and Green's frustration doesn't stem from his and Poole's contract situations. Money was part of the scuffle between Draymond and KD, but in a much different way. Durant was being coy and keeping his future status with the team up in the air, and Green wasn't having any of it. 

Four years later, Green, who has a player option on his contract for the 2023-24 season before becoming an unrestricted free agent, has admitted to the media that he doesn't expect to receive an extension before the 2022-23 season begins. Poole has an Oct. 17 deadline to sign a rookie contract extension with the Warriors or else he becomes a restricted free agent next summer. All indications are the Warriors want to make sure the Poole Party continues in the Bay Area for years to come. 

Which brings us to a new problem the Warriors now have to deal with, one that they beat a season ago to unimaginable heights. Their two-timelines dream of combining stars on the other side of 30 years old with young stars developed in-house just took a major hit.

"It's my job as a coach and it's our veteran players as leaders to make sure that blending of the two eras happens in a really productive way," Kerr said. "That means a combination of mentoring and sacrificing and those are all the things that are going to allow us to be successful."

The blending of two eras took down all predictions and all computer estimations to another title last season. Poole at 23 years old is the torchbearer of the Warriors' youth movement and extending a dynasty. He also is the player whose future with the franchise could be most up in the air contractually. 

More than ever, the Warriors will be leaning on the leadership of Curry and Andre Iguodala, who just became the biggest addition of the offseason. Curry had to take questions to help defuse the fire. Iguodala did his veteran duties through Twitter. 

RELATED: Steph doesn't want Dray to lose 'superpowers' after JP incident

In an instant, everything can change in the NBA. The Warriors recently returned from a trip in Japan where the storylines once again were all about the blending of older and younger, with the veterans taking the youth under their wings. Players, coaches and beyond have raved about the vibes and general feelings of this camp heading into a season opener where the main storyline should have only been about defending their championship and trying on their new rings. 

There's a new story now, one that's riddled with distractions that Curry, Kerr and Myers -- plus Poole for that matter -- should have never had to deal with. At any crack, with any loss, everybody now will have the punch to pull out of their back pocket and use against the Warriors, and against Green.

Make no mistake, the Warriors have needed, and required, Draymond's fire in the past and they'll need it again. Not right now, though. The onus is on him to pour water on flames that he ignited, bringing the temperature in the room back to where it belongs. 

Championship culture for years has been the Warriors' extra ingredient to a recipe every other team is trying to replicate. With short-term and long-term effects, this just might be its biggest test yet.

Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast

Contact Us