Warriors veteran Draymond Green has taken a self-imposed leave of absence, stepping away after slugging teammate Jordan Poole at a recent practice. Video of the attack leaked Friday, prompting Green to issue an apology, acknowledging his conduct was unacceptable while promising to do whatever it takes to win his teammates’ trust back.
This has been a long time coming for Green who, despite being one of the more articulate and thoughtful players in the league (traits that should lead to a successful post-NBA career in sports media), too often succumbs to his own self-destructive tendencies, usually manifesting in erratic behavior like the outburst we saw at Wednesday’s practice.
Green’s trademark intensity, a chip on his shoulder he’s carried since falling to the second round of the 2012 Draft, can act as a double-edged sword, making him one of the most feared defenders in basketball but also a liability when his anger gets the best of him, creating unnecessary distractions both on and off the court. The Warriors, for better or worse, have come to accept this dichotomy, valuing Green’s toughness and leadership qualities while learning to live with his, at times, violent temper and too-frequent lapses in judgment.
However, Green’s latest indiscretion, amplified by disturbing video obtained by TMZ, may be the tipping point with ESPN personality Michael Wilbon left to wonder whether the polarizing 32-year-old, at this late juncture in his career, is worth the baggage that he brings.
“If I’m Golden State, I’m thinking about trading Draymond Green. Not because he hasn’t been uber valuable because he has been. I’m going to pay him max money at 34, 35, 36? Am I going to do that while Jordan Poole is an up-and-coming player?” asked Wilbon on Pardon the Interruption, a show he cohosts with former Washington Post colleague Tony Kornheiser. “Maybe I trade him for a Jaren Jackson Jr. Maybe I try to trade him for Ben Simmons. Guys who can do a portion of what he can do. And Draymond can go somewhere and win another championship. But I don’t know, Tony, that this can work. With the two of them there, with his video out there every day. I don’t know that it can.”
While Wilbon expressed his skepticism that Green and Poole can peacefully coexist after last week’s spat, Kornheiser reserved his outrage for whoever leaked footage to the media, calling it a deliberate act of “sabotage” and grounds for immediate firing. “I would be far less concerned with Draymond Green taking a few days to ascertain his place in the world then I would be infuriated by the fact that this video is out there and this video was leaked. This is an act of sabotage that has come from inside that building,” said Kornheiser. “This is a terrible thing. The Golden State Warriors ought to move Heaven and Earth to find out who leaked this video and fire him or her.”
The Warriors have opened an internal investigation, exhausting all resources to find where the leak came from. Green himself called the leak “bulls---,” livid at being smeared by someone within the organization. Of course, uncovering the culprit is secondary to fixing Golden State’s splintered locker room and holding Green accountable for assaulting his teammate, behavior that, regardless of who started it, shouldn’t be tolerated in any work setting.