The past few days have been an unfamiliar whirlwind of drama with Kevin Durant and Draymond Green at the center of it all. How do they move forward, especially with Durant’s free agency looming? The Golden State Warriors week has been filled with drama, with stars Draymond Green and Kevin Durant at the center of it. Their quarrel came after the Warriors did not attempt a shot in the final five seconds of regulation in their eventual overtime loss to the Clippers on Monday.
Green corralled the Lou Williams miss and did what he normally does for the Warriors: push the ball up to see if he can find an open teammate. Durant was standing right next to Green pleading for the ball, with a possibility to win. Unfortunately, for Green and the Warriors, he got the ball poked away by Clippers rookie, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Here’s the play again.
Kevin Durant realllllllllllly wanted Draymond Green to give him the ball…… pic.twitter.com/Y6qSTafwyq
— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) November 13, 2018
This led to the argument on the bench between Green and Durant. Durant was visibly upset with Green for not giving him the basketball at the end of regulation and that is when Green lost control of his emotions.
As regulation comes to an end during Warriors vs Clippers a heated exchange between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant ensued on the bench with Klay Thompson playing peacemaker. pic.twitter.com/Za7IrmqOJ2
— adam (@ClippsMcGee) November 13, 2018
Above is the altercation between Green and Durant on the bench.
On the play at the end of regulation, Green made the play he thought was the correct play, which was to push the ball up into an unset Clipper defense and see if there were any players who would fill the lanes. Durant wanted the ball in his hands, and rightfully so, as he is one of the best basketball players on earth and was knocking down most of his shots on the night.
However, what it also showed was the contrast in thinking between the two players. Green pushed the ball to see what he could get from an unset defense and most importantly, to set up his teammates, a staple in the Warriors’ unselfish brand of basketball. Durant, on the other hand, wanted the last shot, which seems fair given his resume and track record of being a big shot maker in tight games, but this is one of the reasons he left the Oklahoma City Thunder, to pursue a more team-oriented offense.
That brings up another point: free agency for both players.
There are some insightful details that have been reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania about what was possibly said in the heated exchange between Green and Durant in the Warriors’ huddle before going into overtime.
Sources: In midst of verbal exchange on court late in Monday's game, Draymond Green challenged Kevin Durant about Durant's impending free agency. As teammates came at Green about his turnover, he responded. This has been a simmering issue for the Warriors today.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 13, 2018
Marcus Thompson, the Warriors columnist for The Athletic took it a step further in his article.
“According to multiple sources, Green then went on to make it clear he’s been making plays for years. He reminded Durant the Warriors were winning before Durant showed up so he wouldn’t stand for Durant talking to him as if he were a scrub. Green accused Durant of making the whole season about him even though he was going to leave after this season. Green let out his frustrations about how Durant has handled free agency — keeping his options open and keeping the story alive, consuming the Warriors and their season with talk of what Durant will do next.”
Thompson went on to say, “That’s the mild version. The original version included Green calling Durant a “b**tch” several times — disrespect that management said was too harsh to overlook.
It is intriguing to note that Green had accused Durant of making the whole season about his free agency during a meaningless game in November, unless Green knows something that everyone else does not. The basketball world knows that Durant is a free agent next summer. Green and the Warriors know it.
Green won’t be doing much recruiting for Durant when asked about the connections between Durant and the Knicks.
“When that decision comes up, I think we’ll have won three championships,” Green told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. “That’s my recruiting: three out of three.”
Championships are a good recruiting tool, but Durant has helped the Warriors capture back-to-back titles with a couple of Finals MVP trophies in his hardware case as well. What more does Durant want from the Warriors that he has been given already? The titles that president of basketball operations, Bob Myers, owner, Joe Lacob, and the rest of the Warriors organization promised have come to fruition. Now, all there is left for Kevin Durant to desire is a huge max contract, since he took a pay cut in the summer of 2017 to help the Warriors hang on to key veterans, Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala.
However, if Durant received a max contract from the Golden State Warriors, that would mean either Draymond Green or Klay Thompson would receive the other max contract, unless either of them is willing to take a massive pay cut. Green’s contract is up in 2020, a year after Durant and Thompson’s contracts are up.
But what Durant does this summer could impact Green and his tenure this summer. It sure did not help Green’s cause that he was suspended without pay by the Golden State Warriors for “conduct detrimental” for Monday night’s late game exchange with Durant and did not play in the team’s Tuesday night contest against the Atlanta Hawks.
The message being sent to Green with the suspension is that he crossed the line with his confrontation with Durant and he needed to be punished for it. What this also suggests, however, is a possible rift between Green and the franchise. The franchise is siding with Durant in this dispute, which is not ideal for Green because he knows how important he is to the success of the franchise and it almost acts as a plea for Durant to stay next summer when his contract is up and he becomes a free agent.
The Warriors should not have to choose sides on who to sign in the future, but a play at the end of regulation in a meaningless game in November decided to change the franchise for better or for worse between two of stars on a historic team.
The two stars have a history of getting in the face of each other over basketball plays, most notably an argument in early January of 2017 when the Warriors had a 24-point lead at home against the Memphis Grizzlies, an argument on the bench against the Kings a month later and the heated vitriol-spitting match on Monday against the Clippers.
There is a common thread among the three instances of these arguments: the Warriors lost all three of these games.
Durant is not the only person in the Warriors organization Green has quarreled with. In February of 2016, Green unleashed a vicious tirade at head coach Steve Kerr, where security had to be called out into the tunnel for precaution. Green is a fiery competitor that matches trash talking with gritty, hard play. But sometimes his tongue lash-outs can have a profound effect as it did on Monday night.
How do the Warriors move past this drama between Durant and Green?
Thompson might have an answer, according to Marcus Thompson of The Athletic.
“We all want to win,” Thompson said in the locker room after the game, per accounts of people in the room. “That’s all this is about. We all want to win. I think we’re the only team that can beat us. Nobody else can beat us. So let’s go kick ass.”
Along with Thompson, Warriors captain and star point guard, Stephen Curry, is on the mend from a reported groin strain. According to Warriors PR, Curry will not play in the Warriors’ three-game Texas road trip, but will accompany the team. Hopefully for the Warriors, Curry’s presence will help simmer down any drama Kevin Durant and Draymond Green still have with one another.