OAKLAND -- Here we go. A full week after the Squabble at Staples, folks have been taking sides. Social media is buzzing, with no sign of slowing, over what the Warriors should do about Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.
Some believe the Warriors might be best served by doing impulsive, like concluding, in November, that they must trade one of them.
Not a chance. Unless either of them requests such a move -- which is highly doubtful even as each copes with his own disenchantment -- the Warriors wouldn’t do that, nor should they, certainly not now.
To do so anytime soon is to apply addition-by-subtraction logic, which sometimes is wise. It’s always wise only if a team’s unraveling can be traced to a single individual. That guy then has to go. See, for example, the case of Jimmy Butler and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Butler made it abundantly clear that he didn’t want to be in Minnesota. He invented ways to undermine coach Tom Thibodeau, the man Butler claims is his kind of coach and the reason why, 16 months earlier, he was thrilled to join the Timberwolves. The team was 4-9. It had lost five consecutive games, four by double-digits.
The Timberwolves needed to trade Butler for the sake of their playoff chances. It was a clear case of him or them.
The Warriors have an altogether different situation in both the past and the present. Whereas Minnesota last season felt the briefest glow of the postseason for the first time in 14 years, the Warriors have made four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, winning three -- the last two with Durant as the MVP.
They are two-time defending champs. They have, as a group, with Durant and Green playing central roles, achieved at the highest level.
The Warriors over the past week have lost four of five, the last three in a row. There are mitigating factors, notably the total absence of Stephen Curry and the partial absence of Green; the two All-Stars have combined to miss 11 games this season.
But even as they stink on ice, the Warriors are 12-6 -- exactly one game off their pace of last season, when through 18 games their four All-Stars combined to miss two, one each by Curry and Durant.
Green isn’t pleased about being suspended for a game and losing out on about $120,00. He also happens to be nursing a sprained toe. He’s not in the best of moods and won’t be until he feels better, gets back to playing and winning. He’ll get over the suspension because he’s a professional and he plays for his teammates.
Durant is annoyed about being vilified by Green, in public, during a game. There is no sign that he is ready to put this behind him. He’s on edge, still carrying anger/frustration, and it’s hurting his performance.
Until Durant comes to Warriors management with a desire to be traded and a list of preferred teams, he remains for at least the rest of this season. He will not play as poorly all season as he did last week. It’s not who he is. He has too much at stake. No professional gives up, and Durant is a pro.
There is some tantalizing speculation, such as Durant or Green to Toronto for Kawhi Leonard. The salary swap can be worked out, but is Kawhi the right fit? He, like Durant, is expected to opt out of his contract next summer.
Nope. Not going to happen.
The reason the Warriors welcomed DeMarcus Cousins is because they were confident in their culture. They had faith that between their foundation players and Cousins being motivated to command a lucrative long-term contract next summer, this stood a good chance of working.
That culture isn’t broken. It’s being tested at a level never before known. All the nagging behind-the-scenes issues of last season don’t amount to what the Warriors faced last week.
But the Warriors owe it to themselves to give this roster a chance to work this out over the coming weeks. The investment is too high, the consequences too substantial, the potential payoff too rewarding.
So, no, there should be no consideration of a trade involving Durant or Green. It’s November. The team is wounded. Klay Thompson is struggling under the burden of trying to compensate for the scoring void in Curry’s absence. Durant is playing as if he’s a prisoner of his deepest thoughts.
You don’t break up a championship core unless age begins to close its window or someone insists he want out. Doing it before then is indicative of panic, and these Warriors are not known for that.