The defending champion Golden State Warriors were knocked out of the playoffs by the Los Angeles Lakers in six games in the second round.
It was the first time the Warriors did not make it to the NBA Finals after making the playoffs since the 2013-14 season, and Draymond Green says he is to blame.
Green made headlines when it was revealed he got into an altercation with teammate Jordan Poole during a practice before the season, but when video of the fight was leaked, it became much more of a story than it originally had been.
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Green had been open about the altercation several times throughout the season, but after being eliminated, he now says it played a role into their season being cut short.
“I absolutely think so, because I still think the fact of the matter is it’s going to be hard — I don’t really think anyone could beat us,” Green said in an interview with ESPN. “I know we just lost. I’m not taking anything away from the Los Angeles Lakers. They’re competing at a high level, they’re a good team.”
Green admitted after the incident that there was “five months of…slippage” in the locker room and believes the Warriors would be in the Western Conference Finals had he not punched Poole.
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“We would still be playing,” he said. “I’m aware that Jordan struggled a little bit at times this year, I get that, and had I not done that, the relationship we had, I could have been there for him. I could have carried him through that. [I] wasn’t necessarily able to do that once everything happened.”
Head coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday that there were trust issues among the team after the fray.
“There was some of that that was lost this year, for sure. There’s no hiding from it,” he said. “The incident with Draymond and Jordan at the beginning of the year played a role in that. It’s hard for that not to impact a team….
“Anytime some trust is lost, then it makes the process much more difficult, and there was some trust lost. That’s as blunt as I can be. The only way to try to correct course is to continue to communicate with players and coaches, and those relationships have to be built. The bonds have to be built. I think that’s a major focus for us this offseason. We have to get back to what has made us really successful, which is a really trusting environment and a group that relies on one another and makes each other better.”
Green has a player option for the 2023-24 season and can become a free agent if he chooses to decline it.
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