After a weeklong absence, Draymond Green will return to the Warriors Thursday, practicing for the first time since punching Jordan Poole, setting off a PR firestorm that coach Steve Kerr referred to as “the biggest crisis we’ve ever had.” While Green’s public apology was well-received, that doesn’t mean he’ll be welcomed back with open arms, with Green himself acknowledging his fractured relationship with Poole may be beyond repair. “It’s on me to do the work to rebuild, but on his time, when or if he ever wants to do that,” said Green. “That’s a personal choice for Jordan, and I have to accept whatever comes with that.”
Pardon the Interruption’s Michael Wilbon opined earlier this week that Green, as his decline phase begins, is no longer worth the headache, feeling it would be in the Warriors’ best interest to trade him, eliminating a high-maintenance player many feel has become an unnecessary distraction. That sentiment is shared by many in the media, with beat reporter Tim Kawakami of The Athletic equating the locker room tension in Golden State to a struggling marriage, suggesting the Warriors and Green are in the “sticking-it-out-while-the-kids-are-still-in-school” stage of their relationship with divorce all but inevitable.
“He moved out of the house to let things calm down. He’s coming back, but it’s still going to be tense,” Kawakami said of Green’s self-imposed sabbatical. “The strains in this long-term relationship have become very visible. The patchwork is happening before our eyes. The arrangements and compromises are all too obvious. It feels like the clock is ticking down.”
Green’s erratic behavior and penchant for getting under teammates’ skin is one of many reasons this could be his final season in Golden State. Even if Green manages to patch things up with Poole, the reality is he’ll never be as valuable to the Warriors as he was in his “Hamptons Five” prime, offering little on the offensive end while still undersized (6’6”) for his position. Green’s toughness and floor vision (he led the Warriors with seven assists per game last season) are both assets, but if the 32-year-old is hoping for a lucrative contract extension, he may have to go outside the organization to get it.
“Draymond’s future with this team beyond this season is in serious doubt. He’s not getting the max contract extension he wanted this summer and he may never get it,” Kawakami writes. “He’s obviously hurt his value throughout the league with this incident.”
For almost a decade, Green has been the heart and soul of one of the most successful teams in NBA history, winning four championships while establishing himself as one of the most feared defenders in basketball. But athletes (except maybe Tom Brady) all have an expiration date and Green, still reeling from his latest meltdown, is dangerously close to wearing out his welcome in Golden State.
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