OAKLAND -- Neither Warriors general manager Bob Myers nor coach Steve Kerr shed much light on the reasons for their decision to suspend Draymond Green on Tuesday. There is no doubt both men were deeply bothered.
That much was clear from their austere responses in separate pregame news conferences.
Multiple sources say Kevin Durant and Green exchanged profanities while quarreling late Monday night, as the Warriors were losing to the Clippers in Los Angeles. That happens, at some point, in most competitive locker rooms. It has happened with the Warriors, between Durant and Green.
What pushed this dispute to another level, according to sources, is that Green also brought up Durant’s upcoming free agency.
That, according to a team source, is where Green crossed the line. And it’s why Myers and Kerr, both accustomed to Green’s customary outbursts, felt a suspension was warranted.
Name-calling is one thing, contract-baiting another. It’s disrespectful.
“Something you don’t do in the NBA is talk about another man’s money,” one league source said Tuesday, prior to the Warriors' game against the Atlanta Hawks at Oracle Arena.
Which might explain why Kerr, usually willing to engage in conversation, kept most of his answers brief, looking as if he’d rather discuss anything else. And why Myers never looked so tired, his eyes redder than I can ever recall.
The Warriors’ flight from L.A. didn’t arrive in Oakland until about 2 a.m. Tuesday, and we can safely assume neither Myers nor Kerr slept well.
Yet both insisted Durant’s free agency isn't a topic in the Warriors' locker room and that it was unrelated to the dispute between Durant and Green on Monday in LA.
“Nobody ever talks about Kevin’s free agency,” Kerr said.
“I don’t think it is [a topic],” Myers said. “I’m sure that’s going to be the idea in some people’s minds. But being around this team, being around these players ... it’s hard to win a championship. You can’t allow anything else your locker room, in the narrative. This team has done a good job of that.
“I know it may appear as if it looked easy over the last [few years]. It’s not. If you’re in the locker room, if you’re in our organization, it’s hard. We’ll get through it and we’ll keep moving.”
Given the history between Green and Durant, it’s altogether likely that this incident will not have lasting consequences. It’s not likely to drive the decision Durant will make in July. They fuss. They get on each other’s nerves. They hang out.
“I think we’ll be fine,” Kerr said. “We’re a team that goes through stuff just like everybody else. Things happen, bumps in the road. You’ve got to move forward. It’s all part of coaching a team and it’s part of being on a team. You have get through adversity, and there are some difficult time and you get through them.”
Though the Green-Durant squabble started with a basketball decision made by Green -- he dismissed Durant’s pleadings for the ball in the final seconds of a tie game Monday night, and the Warriors failed to get a shot -- that is not the basis for the suspension.
“As far as what decision coaches and player make, there’s a thousand decisions they make out there,” Myers said. “So I don’t get into this or that, as far as what he should or shouldn’t have done.”
It was, however, what set off Durant. It also bothered a few other Warriors who questioned Green’s decision. Passing the ball to Durant for a potential game-winning shot “would have solved multiple problems,” according to one source.
Instead, the Warriors have to hope any animosity will be brief, as it has been in the past. They have to hope Green still will be the fiery presence that stirs their offense and fuels their defense — and that he makes peace with Durant.
They also have to hope Durant is willing to forgive and move on.
Both conclusions are likely. That’s the history of the Durant-Green relationship. It’s at times tempestuous, but that always has passed for the sake of a greater goal.