Golden State forward Draymond Green — on an indefinite league suspension since Dec. 13 — is expected to return to the Warriors’ facility in the coming days to start ramping up to resume play, sources told ESPN on Thursday.
Green will miss his 11th game when the Warriors face the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night, but his plan to rejoin the team to start working himself back into playing shape is the final step toward him restarting his season.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has the final say on the reinstatement timeline, but it’s believed that Green will have satisfied the league’s requirements to return once he is deemed properly ramped up to play, sources said.
While away from the Warriors since he struck Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic during a Dec. 12 game, Green has been participating in individual counseling sessions and periodic virtual meetings that include team, league and union officials designed to chart his progress toward reinstatement, sources told ESPN. The Zoom meetings are playing a role in how the NBA, the National Basketball Players Association and the Warriors have been meant to measure Green’s progress toward working through whatever issues might have contributed to repeated violent episodes with opponents and a former teammate, sources said.
Green — a four-time champion and two-time All-NBA player — has been described as open and engaged in the aftermath of the league-imposed suspension.
Green’s agent, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul; Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr.; team trainer Rick Celebrini; and NBPA and NBA officials are part of these ongoing sessions, sources said.
These meetings have been a part of what the NBA described as “certain league and team conditions” that Green must fulfill before his suspension is lifted. The NBA, the NBPA, the Warriors and Green played roles in curating this unique, open-ended suspension, but the NBA has the final say on Green’s eventual return. The league proposed this idea after successive violent encounters against Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert in November and against Nurkic in mid-December.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he has had little contact with Green over the past several weeks, but the two have exchanged a few texts.
“But we’ve been giving him his space, and he’s been giving us ours,” Kerr said.
The Warriors have gone 6-5 during Green’s suspension as they continue to struggle to find consistency with their play. Kerr has switched his starting lineup twice during Green’s absence — the most recent change targeted at improving the starting group’s defense.
Jonathan Kuminga has been starting in Green’s spot. Kerr told ESPN’s Kendra Andrews that “there is a world where [Kuminga] can start for the rest of the year,” as long as the third-year forward continues to play well and the team wins.
In the first season of a four-year, $100 million contract, Green is losing $153,941 for every game he is suspended.