Golden State Warriors stand by Draymond Green, say he'll get help during his indefinite suspension

15 December 2023
15 December 2023

The Golden State Warriors believe Draymond Green needs help to curb his long history of rough play, and general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. is hopeful an indefinite suspension provides enough time for their star forward to make real progress.

Dunleavy said Thursday that the team is satisfied with the NBA's latest punishment for Green, the four-time NBA champion who was indefinitely banned Wednesday after hitting Phoenix center Jusuf Nurkic in the face. The suspension was the sixth of Green's career and his fourth in 2023.

"I think this is something that a lot of people may see as a problem, but we're looking to turn it into a positive," Dunleavy said on the UCLA campus during the Warriors' morning shootaround before their game against the Clippers.

"(Green is at) a point in his career and his life where we want to get some things straightened out, and maybe sometimes you need a jolt like that. But I think it's been very positive, very open, and (we're) extremely optimistic that we can get to where we need to go."

Dunleavy repeatedly said the Warriors will "help" Green during his absence, but didn't specify the nature of that aid. Green will be around the Warriors extensively during his suspension, although he can't be with the team on game nights.

"The thought process is there's a lot of ways you can go about this, but for now, we think the healthiest thing is for him to be around," Dunleavy said. "It may not be every single day, but we're not jettisoning the guy off somewhere."

Dunleavy also unambiguously confirmed the Warriors are committed to the 33-year-old Green, who is in the first season of a four-year, $100 million contract extension. Although Dunleavy pointedly said Golden State's starting lineup hasn't played well enough during the team's 10-13 start, he praised the play of Stephen Curry and Green.

"He's been here for a long time," Dunleavy said of Green. "He's hung a ton of banners and means so much to this organization. I think this is about turning this thing into a positive and getting better. I think that happens, and we feel really good. Like I said, his play has been terrific. It's just his lack of availability that's not been great, and we want to make that better."

Dunleavy said Green and the Warriors had discussions with the NBA about the nature of the suspension before it was announced this week, and all parties agreed on a truly indefinite suspension. Dunleavy said there are no guaranteed parameters on the ban's length.

Dunleavy also said he thinks it's reasonable to hold Green to a higher standard after his history of misbehavior, including the bizarre headlock he placed on Minnesota's Rudy Gobert during a skirmish last month, leading to a five-game ban.

"I hope Draymond gets the help he needs," said Kevin Durant, the Phoenix star and Green's former Golden State teammate, after the suspension was handed down Wednesday. "I know Draymond. He hasn't been that way when I was around him and coming into the league. Hopefully he gets the help he needs and gets back on the court and puts all this stuff behind him."

The Warriors have lost 11 of 15 heading into their meeting with the surging Clippers, and Dunleavy indicated that the team's next 15 to 20 games will play a major role in deciding whether Golden State needs to make big roster moves.

Entering Thursday, not only would Golden State - a winner of four NBA titles in the last nine years and a team that was widely expected to contend for one this season - not be in the playoffs, but the Warriors wouldn't even qualify for the play-in tournament.

"We're going to try to fill that gap up until he returns," said Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga, whose minutes are likely to rise in Green's absence. "But throughout this time, we're all supporting Draymond. We're all communicating. We're all helping him. We're just going through this moment. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen, but we're always going to stay professional and just try our best to help our team win in the meantime waiting for Draymond to be back."

Green's absence comes with the Warriors already in a spot of early-season trouble. They've blown a series of fourth-quarter leads, and they haven't won a game by double figures in well over a month while needing nine starting lineups to get through the season's first 23 games.

Klay Thompson has struggled offensively after failing to agree on an extension last summer, and then he was benched toward the end of Tuesday's game in Phoenix. Andrew Wiggins' numbers are also well off his career norms and last season's standard.

Now they'll be without Green, their top defensive player and a versatile leader.

Missing games will also come at a sizable financial cost to Green. The first five-game suspension this season forced him to forfeit $769,704, and this suspension will cost him roughly $150,000 per game if it is less than 20 games, going up to about $200,000 per game after that.

The Warriors also figure to save at least $500,000 per game on their luxury tax bill for each game he misses.

Compounding Green's woes, the suspension almost certainly means he won't play in the 65 games that, in most cases, will be required for a player to be eligible for the postseason awards under the NBA's new participation policies, which means his annual spot on the all-defensive team now seems to be in serious jeopardy. And it will surely be part of what USA Basketball takes into consideration when deciding whether Green, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, deserves a spot on the team that will go to next year's Paris Games.

Golden State's Steve Kerr will coach that Olympic team, and Green has indicated he would like to play. Speaking in his role as a TNT analyst earlier this week, Grant Hill - USA Basketball's managing director - said Green striking Jurkic was "disappointing."

"He's got to use better judgment in that situation," Hill said.