Draymond Green crossed a line Monday by getting into Kevin Durant’s pocket, at least metaphorically. And this, kids, is how teams can be changed on the fly despite everyone’s best intentions.
Can, that is. Whether it will is entirely up to Durant, and to a much lesser extent Green.
Green was suspended by the Warriors for Tuesday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks for “conduct detrimental to the team.” Or, in layman’s terms, for leading with his mouth instead of his head, the two most formidable weapons in his interpersonal arsenal.
Green put his head down in the final possession of regulation Monday night, and dribbled the length of the floor instead of either giving the ball immediately to Kevin Durant or seeking Klay Thompson. The ensuing turnover killed the possession, and the Warriors lost to the Los Angeles Clippers in overtime to fall to 11-3.
Game 14, we remind you. Loss No. 3. Under normal circumstances, this would be nothing of note.
But Durant, who had called for the ball as Green took off down the floor, clearly was irked, and after Green reportedly brought up Durant’s pending free agency during the post-possession argument, the place teammates do not dare go had been invaded.
So the timing was irrelevant. What was relevant was that Green walked up to the line he typically straddles well and jumped well over it, to the point where Warriors general manager Bob Myers and coach Steve Kerr had a simple decision to make -- show Green the third rail and how far beyond it he is, or ignore it and lose Durant for sure.
They chose wisely. They would have chosen wisely if Green had said it to anyone else on the team, because at some point the talent/tolerance scale simply is too unbalanced to endure. Green got personal instead of professional, and Durant as the aggrieved party stood in opposition, as did his teammates. They love Green, but sometimes love comes with a boot.
How this affects Durant’s future, of course, is the next avenue of speculation. Durant's free-agency plan in 2019-20 always has been his anyway, but only he can determine whether this is the beat that ruins the record and sends him to New York or Los Angeles. One would like to think he has weeks to let this pave over, but “one” is not him, and how Green takes both his suspension and his medicine upon returning will have something to do with Durant’s choice.
But in the shorter term, it makes Durant’s future even more of a debating point between now and July. It certainly damages the notion that Golden State, either the Oakland or San Francisco version, is the safest and most tranquil place for Durant to cement his fortune.
In short, the Warriors’ only decision to date -- how best to sweet-talk Durant into taking all the money -- now could be a different one. Namely, if this is an either-Durant-or-Green problem. The suspension gives us a hint as to how they’re leaning.
It all depends, again, on whether Durant considers this an irreparable breach of protocol between colleagues, or just one of those Draymond things that Draymond needs to make right.
Either way, things just got weird on the Least Weird Team In The World, and drama has come to visit the team that under normal circumstances is least affected by it.
The sometimes bizarre world that other teams know all too well (see Timberwolves, Minnesota and Butler, Jimmy) has come to spend some time in the Golden State locker room. This ought to be good.
Or if nothing else, good and weird. Either way, Draymond Green has some thinking to do. And then, so does Kevin Durant.