The Warriors love Draymond Green for the jolt of adrenaline he provides upon entering the room. They love him for the rebounding and the passing and the scoring and the hoops intellect and, of course, the junkyard dog defense.
They also love their power forward through his personal trials and errors, which have come almost monthly this year.
So as Green has spent his summer as part of Team USA in the Rio Olympics, the Warriors – particularly coach Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers – have spent recent weeks walking a fine professional line. They’ve been accepting Green for the talented young man he is while also expressing genuine concern for the some of his questionable, even problematic, conduct.
“He and I have talked,” Kerr told CSNBayArea.com this week. “He and Bob have talked.
“Draymond knows we need his edge. We need his intensity. We need him to walk that line, and he’s probably crossed it a couple times. I think he’s perfectly capable of toeing the line, walking it and still being the player that is. That’s going to be his focus next year.”
Green’s first notable unflattering public incident came in February, when he blew a gasket at halftime at Oklahoma City. A few weeks later, in March, Green posted a video in which he was driving 118 mph on an East Bay freeway. The next came in May, when he kicked Thunder center Steven Adams in the groin. Green was suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals on June 13 as a result of a brief scuffle with Cavs star LeBron James, arrested for assault in mid-July for a late-night skirmish outside a restaurant in Michigan and, roughly two weeks later inadvertently posted a lewd photo of himself on Snapchat.
Though Green and others believe his suspension cost the Warriors a second consecutive championship, most of these wayward episodes were benign in general – the car arrived safely, Adams recovered quickly and the assault charges were pleaded down – the pattern is alarming for the Warriors, who last summer signed Green to a five-year contract worth $82 million.
Green, 26, goes hard at most everything he does. That’s the attitude that lifted him out of Saginaw, Mich., and into the NBA. That’s the attitude that made him an All-Star and gave him the drive required to lead the Warriors in rebounding and assists.
On a team of mostly mild peppers, Green is the habanero. He brings the heat. And sometimes that heat is so scorching it strips him of his better judgment – on and, more distressing, off the court. The apologies are piling up.
That’s why Kerr and Myers, and others, have discussed matters with Green. They’re anxious to see if it helps him productively channel his fury.
They don’t want the next six months – or six or 16 of 36 years – to look anything like the last six.
“Everybody faces a different challenge, every year,” Kerr said. “His challenge next year is to maintain that edge and to continue to give us that chip on the shoulder that gives him so much intensity and at the same time toe the line in a good fashion.
“I think he will.”