OAKLAND -- The heated exchange that occurred Monday night with Draymond Green still was on Kevin Durant’s mind Tuesday night. He’s not yet in a forgiving mood for an incident he’ll never forget.
Maybe we should say incidents. Plural.
While the general consensus among the Warriors is that Green was out of line with what he said to Durant late Monday night -- it got personal, according to two sources -- there also didn’t seem to be any great surprise.
There were indications that tension had been building, which makes sense. Green is hard on those around him, and everybody has a tipping point. This is Year 3 of Green and Durant as teammates, and there have been testy moments throughout, even though no Warrior was more persistent than Green in recruiting Durant in 2016.
The overriding question now becomes whether this Green-Durant quarrel, resulting in Green serving a one-game suspension Tuesday, is an impenetrable barrier or a mere hurdle -- not only for them but also for the Warriors in general.
Is this the beginning of the end, or simply a new beginning?
Asked if he and Green have had a chance to deal with their high-profile disagreement, Durant played it straight.
“Nah,” he said.
Asked if he believed that day would come, Durant said it would, pointing out that a long season would determine.
Though several Warriors conceded that they didn’t where this would take the team, Klay Thompson was downright optimistic.
“They’re grown,” Klay Thompson said. “They’ll be fine.
“I love both of those guys,” he added. “At the end of the day, we’re on the same team, with the same goal. And that’s a three-peat. I don’t think either one of them will lose sight of that, whether it’s personal agenda or whatever.”
Durant, for what it’s worth, was off his offensive game Tuesday night. The Warriors scrapped their way to a victory, 110-103, over the very-beatable Atlanta Hawks, but Durant missed 14 of his 23 shots.
“I just didn’t make shots tonight,” he said. “I know I got some good ones that went back rim and rimmed in and out. And I took a couple tough ones. I felt like I should have been 13 for 23. I wish I had some of those shots back. But we’ve got another game coming up.”
That game comes Thursday night, against the Rockets in Houston, in a meeting of the teams that went seven games in the 2018 Western Conference finals. There were hints of turmoil among the Warriors during that series, and Durant surely felt it.
But the Warriors found a way to get past it and roll through the NBA Finals for a second consecutive championship.
They were made stronger by the test they took and passed. Durant understood the value of Green, and that his contributions offset those moments when he’s hard to take.
Durant acknowledged that the Warriors were weaker for not having Green on Tuesday, and he likely feels the same way in the long term.
“His presence has been part of this team for a while, even before I got here,” Durant said. “He has been a huge staple in this organization. It’s definitely weird not having him around and with everything that went down. But that’s what happens. S--t happens in the NBA. I just try to move on be a basketball player.
“I don’t have anything else to do but be the best player I can be every single day. I try not to worry about anything else.”
Asked if this latest test will make them stronger, Durant had a quick response.
“Who knows?” he said. “We’ll see.”
This season just got tougher. Can the Warriors remain at the top? Given their general professionalism, what’s at stake and the competitors involved, it would be foolish to bet against them.