We're about to find out whether Joe Lacob, Bob Myers and Steve Kerr can master the one thing they've never had to do in their time together.
Long-term crisis management on the fly.
Draymond Green’s intemperance and Kevin Durant’s intransigence have collaborated to hand the Warriors' principal owner, their general manager and their head coach a series of problems that require both tactical and strategic skill, short-term thinking and long-term vision-making that they didn’t think they would have to perform while in the early stages of a very long basketball season.
And it isn’t just about managing the dual thickets of Green’s and Durant’s separate sensibilities, but doing it while deciding whether this needs the brainstorming power of the other veterans on the team or going it alone, top-down-management style.
In short, this might require more than just temporary diplomacy from on high, but the on-the-ground work of Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and, yes, maybe even Klay Thompson, who are best positioned to reach both Green and Durant if this starts to reach dangerous levels of toxicity.
Ultimately, this problem will be solved, as all problems are. Options are narrowed, thinking is changed, plans get modified or cemented. After all, as Iguodala, the Warriors’ keenest eye and broadest mind, reminded us, “Everything ends.”
But all the long-term issues that could have sat happily on the back burner at a low simmer already have hit full boil 15 games into the regular season, and the Warriors' front office has been playing reactive management games since Monday just to try to contain the mess to the stovetop.
In other words, this is all just about getting to June, which until now hadn’t been an issue.
For starters, Green wasn’t suspended for Tuesday's game because of a long-term management strategy to cozy up to Durant and more than it was about one mangled possession at the end of regulation in Game 14. Green was suspended because he was in the wrong to go to Durant’s free agency as a rhetorical weapon, and their teammates sided largely with Durant afterward because they understood Green was in the wrong. Kerr and Myers couldn’t not suspend him without making the immediate problem worse.
That, though, is reactive. To get ahead of the issue, they have to wait out both Durant and Green while making sure their individual problem doesn’t spread into something more team-affecting.
Second, free agency will take care of itself, simply because Durant controls his and Green his. This might be part of their mutual resentment, but the NBA’s salary structure isn’t going to change just because it is inconvenient for their joint satisfaction. If this means the dynasty ends this coming Fourth of July when Durant holds an open meeting at Cap d’Antibes for any and all suitors, then that’s how it ends.
And third, this is the end-game scenario the Warriors were trying desperately to avoid -- a frantic, graceless race against time and tempers that would make last season's sometimes joy-deficient championship run seem like Mardi Gras.
A bad end isn't inevitable, if you define “end” as mid-June. But mid-June was supposed to be the easy part, with a generational team engaged in making its piece of history a happy one for all concerned. Now, it is more stressful than any of the others, and will remain so because both players and management are walking on a field of eggshells. Durant-Green sparks a nasty detour from the happy campaign that Kerr set out for the players this year, and its ramifications have an excellent chance of affecting the entire season.
And then there’s July, when this could all spiral into a new orbit entirely, just in time to open the new gym. Crisis management? You ain’t seen nothin' yet.