The Golden State Warriors suspended All-Star forward Draymond Green without pay for Tuesday’s game against Atlanta following his heated verbal exchange with All-Star teammate Kevin Durant during and after Monday’s overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Warriors said in a release Green’s conduct was “detrimental to the team.”
The issue began in the final seconds of regulation with the score tied when Green collected a rebound and refused to pass the ball to Durant, who finished the game with a 30-point triple-double. Green ended up turning the ball over and the game went to overtime.
During the break between the fourth quarter and the start of overtime, Durant yelled at Green for not passing him the ball. The fiery Green didn’t appreciate the comments and had words for Durant. The frustrations carried over into the locker room after the game.
Yahoo Sports reported that Green repeatedly called Durant “a (expletive),” and The Athletic reported Green also had words regarding Durant’s contract situation, which allows Durant to become a free agent following the season. There is widespread speculation that Durant will leave the Warriors, especially if he wins another title. Multiple Eastern Conference executives believe Durant will sign with the rebuilding New York Knicks.
Before Tuesday night’s game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Durant’s impending free agency — and his noncommittal approach — hasn’t caused any locker room issues.
“Not the slightest bit,” he said. “Nobody ever talks about Kevin’s free agency. Doesn’t bother any of us.”
Golden State has dealt with Green’s outbursts before and managed to handle them. It’s part of his competitive personality and what makes him such a valuable part of Golden State’s success. The Warriors have learned how to walk a thin line and not interfere too much with Green’s style.
But there are times the team has to step in, and they did on Tuesday. The one-game penalty will cost Green $120,480.
How problematic or insignificant this turmoil turns out to be will play out. It’s not the first time Green and Durant have been at odds, but it has never resulted in a long-term problem. It happened at least twice during Durant’s first season with Golden State in 2016-17, and the Warriors went on to win the title. They also won the title last season. Durant was named Finals MVP both times.
The dust-up reveals just how difficult it is to maintain chemistry and keep winning, even for a team as talented as the Warriors, who are trying to win their third title in a row and their fourth in five seasons.
Warriors general manager Bob Myers told reporters Tuesday he wasn’t sure if Durant and Green had talked since the confrontation.
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SOURCE: USA Today – Jeff Zillgitt