Jordan Bell has been given numerous second chances by the Warriors. As much as they would like to see him reach his potential, he keeps giving them reasons to wonder if he ever will.
Bell was suspended by the Warriors on Wednesday for “conduct detrimental to the team.” He will not be available Wednesday night when they face the Memphis Grizzlies.
Though the Warriors, who announced the suspension with a 36-word statement, are not divulging the reasons, it seemed inevitable that Bell would be suspended for something, at some point.
We’re two months removed from the forward/center getting into a visible courtside dispute with coach Steve Kerr in the fourth quarter of a Warriors-Lakers game in Los Angeles. It was intense enough that Kevin Durant and Steph Curry felt the need intervene.
While Kerr blamed the episode on “a miscommunication,” Bell, 24, hustled out of the locker room without addressing media and has not revisited the issue. Neither has since elaborated.
But that wasn’t the first or second or third or fourth time that Bell was either insubordinate or irresponsible since the Warriors paid $3.5 million to obtain his rights in the 2017 draft. There were numerous occasions last season in which Bell was late for individual workouts or otherwise unavailable when he should have been.
During his rookie season last year, Bell acknowledged that he needed to be more committed, more of a professional. He told NBC Sports Bay Area that a long conversation with Durant last April – on the team flight from Indiana to the Bay Area – had an effect on him and that he would be more dedicated to his craft, his teammates and his coaches.
“It was a deep conversation,” Bell told me last May. “It made me look at him totally differently. It was like, ‘Damn, this dude really loves basketball.’ Everybody around here says they love playing basketball, but he was saying he wants to die playing basketball. I never felt that way; I want to die in my sleep, something peaceful. He loves it on a totally different level.
“Ever since that conversation, it’s been different. I really love basketball, too. So why wouldn’t I go hard and respect the game like he respects the game?”
Bell was able to regain some of the credibility he’d lost with teammates and coaches. He worked his way back into the rotation and played meaningful minutes in the Western Conference Finals against the Rockets and the NBA Finals against the Cavaliers.
But Bell’s old habits resurfaced this season, resulting in an inability to crack the rotation. He can be spectacular one moment, a disaster the next. He made a highlight-reel block of a Luke Kennard layup on Sunday against Detroit. He also committed three turnovers in 11 minutes.
The Warriors are running low on patience. Bell will be a restricted free agent in July, with the Warriors having the option to make a $1.8 million qualifying offer.
Bell’s situation is similar to that of Patrick McCaw last season. The Warriors extended the offer to McCaw, who rather than accept it opted for restricted free agency. The Warriors made it clear they wanted to McCaw. They believed he could be a part of their future.
The same cannot be said of Bell. Not now. Not after all the ups and downs that speak of an immaturity. He’d had to prove he’s committed, and he has not been able to do that.