Analysis: Draymond Green didn’t hurt Rudy Gobert. He hurt the Warriors, again
Golden State’s Draymond Green is probably going to be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame one day, even with career averages of around 9 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists per game. He’ll have, at minimum, four NBA championships and two Olympic gold medals when he’s all done.
He’ll also have baggage. So much baggage.
The latest addition to that pile came Wednesday when the NBA handed Green a five-game suspension, one that’ll cost him about $770,000 in missed salary and won’t help a Warriors team that is already without an injured Stephen Curry and not off to the hottest of starts at just 6-6.
Green earned every bit of that suspension after putting Rudy Gobert in a headlock during the Warriors-Minnesota game on Tuesday night. It was his second ejection in a span of five days and the 19th — including playoffs — of his career, which is nearly twice as many as any other two currently active players in the league combined.
“Not much to say,” Gobert said after the game. “It was clown behavior.”
Some say clown, some say Draymond being Draymond. Among Green’s other famous incidents: He punched then-teammate Jordan Poole last season, plus earned suspensions for stomping on Domantas Sabonis’ chest in last season’s playoffs and another after a “retaliatory swipe of his hand to the groin” of LeBron James to go over the flagrant-foul-point limit in the 2016 NBA Finals, having to sit down with the Warriors up 3-1 in a series that they would give away.
Add up all his technicals and fines and the money he’s lost for games missed by suspension and Green’s behavior has cost him somewhere around $2 million. He’s made probably close to 100 times that amount, so it’s not exactly hurting the bottom line.
But it will hurt the Warriors, who’ll have to play — again — without Green and amid more distractions that he’s caused. It speaks volumes that the team still defends Green, even after most onlookers would have said he was clearly in the wrong for putting Gobert in the headlock as part of a mess that started with Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Minnesota’s Jaden McDaniels getting tangled up.
“The Draymond piece of it, if you watched the replay, Rudy had his hands on Klay’s neck and that’s why Draymond went after Rudy,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after Tuesday’s game. “I saw one replay right after it happened. Guys on the back of the bench were telling us that Rudy had Klay, and that’s why Draymond went at Rudy. So that’s all I know.”
True, Gobert probably didn’t need to get involved in the Thompson-McDaniels mess and if he did want to play peacemaker he could have grabbed his teammate to pull him out of the fray instead of putting his hands on an opponent. It certainly stands to reason that Green would have been irate over the visual of Gobert grabbing Thompson, though it’s not a well-kept secret that Green and Gobert don’t like each other very much.
First off, they’ve battled for defensive player of the year honors a few times and neither has been too happy when the other prevailed. Green also has openly mocked Gobert for breaking into tears when the then-Utah center missed out on being an All-Star in 2019.
And, after Minnesota beat the Warriors on Sunday, Green might have raised a few eyebrows with this assessment: “I don’t necessarily view it as a tough matchup.”
It got tough Tuesday night without an injured Curry and an ejected Thompson and Green. Minnesota won 104-101, finishing off a two-game sweep on the Warriors’ home court. The Warriors are 1-4 at home, that lone win coming by a single point, and now are further short-handed.
This suspension won’t change anyone’s opinion of Green. His fans will stand by him, his critics will be further empowered to rip him. It also won’t change the way he plays; he’ll still be a lightning rod by choice, will probably post on Instagram — just as he did a few days ago — about how he doesn’t care what most people think.
Maybe Green should, or at least realize the antics just aren’t worth it anymore. It’s up for debate if he was truly trying to hurt Gobert. There’s no argument that he hurt the Warriors.
Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds(at)ap.org
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