Golden State’s Draymond Green won’t be suspended for punching his teammate Jordan Poole last week, regardless that Coach Steve Kerr described the situation as “the most important crisis that we’ve ever had.”
Kerr said that Green could be fined an undisclosed amount and that he was expected to play within the season-opener at home against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. Green has been kept out of practices and preseason games for the reason that incident on Oct. 5, but Kerr said he could be back at practice on Thursday. Kerr announced the choice after a preseason game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday.
“This feels right,” he said, adding that criticism of the punishment could be “fair.”
Kerr said “all the things was on the table” for punishment, including a suspension, however the team talked to key players, including Poole and Stephen Curry, and decided that the fantastic could be the very best strategy to move forward.
Green, 32, punched Poole, 23, after they exchanged words during practice last week. Two days later, TMZ published a leaked video of the fight that went viral. Green is shown approaching Poole, coming chest to chest. Poole shoves Green then moves backward, but Green moves toward Poole and punches him. Green said he apologized to Poole and the team, then he apologized publicly during a news conference Saturday.
Green is a four-time All-Star entering his eleventh N.B.A. season, a span that has included many displays of his fiery nature. He has channeled that energy into tenacious defense, earning the Defensive Player of the 12 months Award in 2017, but he has also received scores of technical fouls and lots of flagrant fouls. He was suspended for a game in 2018 after stepping into a dispute together with his then-teammate Kevin Durant.
When Kerr was asked why Green was not suspended this time — especially after Kerr called the incident the team’s “biggest crisis” in his tenure — Kerr said each situation was different. He said that Green “lives on the sting,” but that he trusted him to not go further. He acknowledged that Green had crossed the road a few times in his profession, including within the situation with Durant.
Kerr said Green and Poole had spoken over the past week. He described Poole as an “incredibly mature young guy.”
“We all know that he’s fantastic,” Kerr said. “We all know that he’s willing to maneuver forward.”
He declined so as to add more about how Poole was feeling, saying that he would let him speak for himself. Poole has not spoken publicly for the reason that incident.
Poole was the No. 28 overall pick within the 2019 draft and is entering his fourth season with Golden State. He played a critical role last season because the team handled injuries, averaging 18.5 points and 4 assists per game and starting in 51 of the 76 games he played in. He led the N.B.A. in free-throw shooting at 92.5 percent.
Golden State will end its preseason run with a game against the Denver Nuggets on Friday. Kerr said Green was expected to play.
Green, in his public apology on Saturday, said he knew he needed to regain the trust of his teammates. On Tuesday, two of Golden State’s youngest players — Moses Moody, 20, and James Wiseman, 21 — said they’d welcome him back. Moody said he had a “real strong relationship” with Green; Wiseman said Green was a “huge piece” of the team.
Golden State won its fourth championship under Kerr last season and has its eyes on a title defense this yr. But Kerr said the team’s culture of joy had been “damaged” by the incident with Green.
“You don’t win championships on talent alone,” Kerr said. “It takes chemistry. It takes a collective will and a trust, and that needs to be rebuilt straight away.”