Draymond Green was fined for beating his Golden State Warriors teammate Jordan Poole in a practice session last week, but the polarizing forward was not suspended by the team.
Green, who was not on the team, will return to practice Thursday and play the Denver Nuggets in a preseason show for the defending NBA champions on Friday, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday. The former NBA Defensive Player of the Year is also expected to play in uniform in Tuesday’s opener against the Los Angeles Lakers.
As Kerr explained on Tuesday, Green and Poole have been speaking since the former dropped the latter with a right hand last week, leaked to TMZ on Friday.
Green’s suspension appears to have been an option for Kerr, who told reporters that “everything is on the table.”
Kerr pointed to Bob Myers and general manager’s familiarity with the players to defend the team’s response to the situation, but admitted “any criticism we face here is fair”. “We feel like we have a great feeling about our team,” Kerr said. “We have a lot of continuity in this team, so Bob and I know our players very well.
“We believe this is the best way after evaluating everything to move forward. It is never easy, no matter what decision you make in such a situation. It won’t be perfect. It’s the biggest crisis we’ve had since I’ve been a coach here. It’s really serious stuff.’
Two-time MVP Stephen Curry helped broker discussions between Green and Poole, Kerr said Tuesday.
“We’ve spent the last week in intense conversations with all of our key figures in the organization including of course Jordan and Draymond, Steph, all our players, Bob and myself and I can tell you there have been many conversations, individual, One on one talks, just player talks,” Kerr said. “Everything you can think of, all the different combinations that are possible in a conversation, we had them. It was an exhausting process.’
Green has continued to work individually while not on the team.
Moses Moody, a sophomore, supported the move, saying, “I support their decision.”
While Kerr decided against a suspension, he left the impression that Green still has work to do to make amends. “He broke our trust with that incident but I give him the benefit of the doubt because I think he deserves it and I think our team feels the same way,” Kerr said.
The team is investigating how footage of the incident from a private practice was leaked to TMZ.
When asked if he was more worried about the leak than the blow, Kerr told reporters, “I don’t rank these things.”
“I worry about both,” he said, as quoted by Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney. “They’re both a problem. The incident is a problem, the leak is a problem.’
News of the incident first broke last week, but footage didn’t surface until Friday.
The clip shows Green exchanging words with Poole at the baseline before butting his chest with the smaller guard trying to gently push the veteran forward out of the way while worried teammates and coaches take notice.
Then the 6-foot-6 Green, 32, jumps onto the 6-foot-4 Poole, 23, with his right hand in the face.
Some spectators entered while others, including reigning NBA Finals MVP Stephen Curry, stood by and simply watched as the skirmish unfolded. Eventually, a group of about six viewers managed to separate the couple.
Poole reportedly finished training so he was apparently unharmed.
Myers later admitted to the incident, saying, “These things happen.
“No one likes it,” Myers told reporters. “We don’t condone it, but it happens.
“Draymond has apologized to the team. Jordan was there in the room,” Myers continued. “As far as any suspension, punishment, fine is concerned, we will deal with it internally.”
The cause of the fight remains a mystery.
One report claimed teammates were upset that Poole kept talking about building a pool on his property and the quip eventually got to Green, but Curry has since called that theory “absolute crap”.