Warriors teammates Jordan Poole and Draymond Green seemed to put any preseason differences aside throughout the 2022-23 NBA season and give it their all on the court. But there's no denying the October incident in which Green punched Poole in the face at practice impacted their relationship.
“I don’t have no answer for you,” Poole told The Ringer's Logan Murdock about where things stand with Green after the Warriors were eliminated from the NBA playoffs last week. “Other than that, we was just on the court and teammates, and we was out there trying to win games.
“What I do recall saying at the beginning of the season is that, ‘We’re coming. We’re going to come out here. We’re going to play on the court. We’re going to try to win a championship.’ We were teammates. It’s just business, honestly. And that’s really all it was, it is, it has been. It’s just been business. It’s been basketball.”
At times before the punch, Poole and Green's relationship both on and off the court appeared to be more than just surface deep. Poole referred to Green as "big bro" during interviews, and in December 2021, he explained to NBC Sports Bay Area why he always welcomed Green's outspoken advice.
"What I appreciate most about it is that it’s who he is. He’s himself. And you can’t ask for anything more than that," Poole said at the time. “If that’s how he expresses his feelings, you know, he is our defensive anchor, Defensive Player of the Year, he’s a huge part of our team and he has so much knowledge. I mean, if the only way he can get that out is by yelling and screaming, OK. It is what it is. You just take what it is, the lesson is, and you keep it pushing.”
And, likewise, Green has been an advocate of Poole's over the years. He passionately argued for change in the voting process last season, after Poole wasn't named the NBA's Most Improved Player, and he proudly proclaimed last March that the young Warriors guard would be a threat in the league "for a long time."
Then came the punch.
The Warriors didn't win end up winning another championship in the months afterward, but when road woes led to a sixth-place Western Conference finish, they still made the deeper playoff run than many had predicted.
In his exit interview with the media Saturday, Poole told reporters the altercation between himself and Green didn't negatively impact Golden State's season.
The Warriors fined but didn't suspend Green after TMZ leaked video of the punch, and the team as a whole appeared to move on from the very public spectacle with a focus on the season at hand.
Maybe not everyone, though.
Murdock wrote that "some within the Warriors organization" told him relationships have yet to recover in the aftermath of the punch -- both that of Poole and Green, as well as the two-timeline dynamic between the Warriors' established core and their up-and-coming youngsters.
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And it's more than likely Green and Poole will play alongside each other again next season. While Green has a player option for 2023-24, the Warriors reportedly intend on discussing a multiyear contract extension with their veteran forward. Poole's contract was extended last summer, and he'll certainly look to prove his worth again during his fifth NBA season.
Time heals all wounds. But if the Warriors want to rediscover their championship ways and rebuild their dynastic chemistry, it could take a little more time.