clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Is the Kevin Durant-Draymond Green shouting match a big deal?

New, comments

The Durant-Green argument spilled into the Warriors’ locker room after the game, but it goes deeper than their failed last-second possession.

Golden State Warriors v Utah Jazz Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors went into overtime of their Monday night matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers in the worst way possible: with Kevin Durant and Draymond Green arguing so intensely, they had to be separated by teammates. It took DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Iguodala to cool the duo off.

The Warriors eventually lost in overtime, 121-116. Now, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Durant-Green drama spilled into the locker room with “teammates loudly confronting Green” for his decision-making on the final play of the fourth-quarter — one where he grabbed a rebound and dribbled the length of the floor before losing the ball as the buzzer sounded.

Yahoo’s Chris Haynes reported that Green repeatedly called Durant a “bitch.”

It’s a situation the Warriors are working through, and one that has cast a cloud over a championship organization. Especially now, with The Athletic’s Shams Charania reporting that Green mentioned Durant’s looming free agency during their argument on the sideline.

The Warriors have suspended Green for the team’s Tuesday night game vs. the Hawks without pay, per Wojnarowski.

What happened?

The Warriors trailed by 13 midway through the fourth quarter. That was, until Golden State went on one of its trademark scoring barrages to close the gap within minutes.

Durant was at the center of Golden State’s run. He only scored five points in the final six minutes of the period, but also raked in three assists, including the two dimes to Klay Thompson that cut the deficit to five, then subsequently tied the game at 106.

With the game on the line and the chance to win in their hands, the Clippers gave the ball to Lou Williams, and Andre Iguodala got the stop, forcing Sweet Lou into a fadeaway long two.

And then things got intense

Off Williams’ miss, the ball fell between Durant and Green. You could say it was slightly closer to Durant, but Green was in range to grab the rebound as well.

Some say Green “stole” this rebound from Durant. While Durant presumably could have grabbed the rebound and dribbled up-court, that’s not really what matters.

What matters is what happens next

Green decided to push the ball up-court instead of giving the ball to the league’s most feared scorer, who is clapping his hands demanding the rock. Klay Thompson also signals for the ball, but when it becomes clear Green isn’t giving it up, Thompson opts to fill his lane and sprint up the right side of the floor.

This is typical of Green. He’s a point forward, in every sense of the phrase. He often pushes the ball and the pace for the Warriors. Many also pointed to Steve Kerr’s decision not to call a timeout, but that’s typical of him, too. He’d rather his offense score against a rattled defense than one that’s already set up. It makes sense.

Green keeping the ball on this play doesn’t. He’s not a scorer, and it’s unclear what his game plan was here with fewer than five seconds left, especially with the entire distance of the floor to cover.

He dribbled into traffic, as if he were attempting to go coast-to-coast, and Williams knocked the ball out of his hands. Green went diving for the loose ball, but it was too late. The buzzer had sounded. Golden State and Los Angeles were headed to overtime, and the Warriors didn’t even get a shot off.

And Durant was pissed about it.

There’s no audio on any footage of Durant and Green’s argument, but you can see him slamming his chest and mouthing, “Give me the damn ball!” He’s saying it for a good reason: The Warriors brought Durant to Golden State for this very reason. When the game is on the line, Durant is at his best. It’s why he won NBA Finals MVP two seasons in a row. The man is ice-cold in the clutch.

Why not give him the ball? It makes all the sense in the world.

The thing is, you can’t really make out a single word of what Green is saying to Durant, and at one point in their argument, you can see Durant shaking his head and smiling while Green is talking. When someone smiles during an argument, it’s never a good sign. You can also see Durant tell Iguodala, “I’m just trying to play basketball,” as if he were over the situation entirely.

As for Green, it took none other than DeMarcus Cousins to cool him off. You can see Cousins repeatedly tell Green, “Lock in.”

This has happened before

Green and Durant got into an animated discussion on the court in Durant’s first season with the Warriors during a Jan. 6 loss to the Grizzlies. The Warriors blew a 20-point lead that night, and Green was livid.

That argument stemmed from Durant opting to isolate on offense instead of moving the ball and creating offense for the entire team.

NBC Sports Bay Area’s Monte Poole wrote that Green used that moment as a teaching lesson for Durant, who was still learning his way through what the Warriors wanted to do in different situations. He’d been tasked with a heavy load of iso-ball in his years in Oklahoma City. Life in Golden State was different.

The previous possession ended with Durant, isolated against lumbering Memphis big man Zach Randolph, taking and missing a three-pointer from the top of the key.

That’s not what the situation called for, according to Green and others. The pick-and-roll had been successful most of the night, and it was there between Stephen Curry and Durant.

When Durant went away from it, Green not only explained that he shouldn’t have but also why he shouldn’t have.

But we’re now in Year 3, and Durant knows his role, as does everyone else. Durant’s role normally is to close out games when the team needs a basket down the stretch. Green took matters into his own hands, subsequently costing his team an opportunity at a game-winner in the fourth quarter.

Durant and Green also got into a heated argument on the sidelines during a February 2017 Warriors’ loss to the Kings, though according to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, they watched the Super Bowl together the next day.

OK, so what does all of this mean?

First of all, the Warriors miss Stephen Curry a whole lot. He’s only missed two games with a groin injury, but this team is night and day without him.

Curry isn’t just Golden State’s leader on offense; he’s their emotional leader, too. Had he been on the court, the ball would have certainly made its way into his hands; and you can argue the Warriors wouldn’t have been in this predicament in the first place.

But this was a really bad look for a really good team, even if disagreements in the heat of the moment can be like this. Good teams shake off drama, and the Warriors are the standard of NBA excellence. Shaun Livingston called the exchange “just team spirit” after the game.

“Team spirit. Guys wanted a different outcome than what happened,” he said. “Obviously, Dray had the turnover, guys might have thought they were open or wanted the basketball, didn’t get it. Things happen like that in sports. But it was good to see some fire, some emotion.”

The Athletic’s Anthony Slater also reported that the locker room drama stemmed less from Green’s fumble of the final possession and more from his refusal to accept responsibility for the play.

But this felt uglier than your average inner-team tension.

It’s looking more and more likely that Durant is leaving Golden State this summer. The hints have been all over, from his reluctance to committing long-term, to his brother’s comments under his Instagram posts. Green chucking that last possession and the subsequent fallout only douses Durant’s looming free agency in lighter fluid.

After all, Durant left the locker room after Monday’s loss quietly without speaking to any reporters. Golden State’s biggest fear might be him leaving them in free agency the same way.