14 Jan

Draymond Green’s latest round of rueful rambling, Ja Morant’s injury has a silver lining

Welcome back to NBA Star Power Index: A weekly gauge of the players getting the most buzz around the league. Inclusion on this list isn’t necessarily a good thing — it simply means you’re capturing the NBA world’s attention. This is also not a ranking. The players listed here are in no particular order. This column will run every week throughout the regular season.

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Draymond Green
GS • PF • #23
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Draymond Green’s suspension for round-housing Jusuf Nurkic in the head has been lifted, and you’ll never guess what he’s been doing as he prepares to return to the court for the Warriors: Talking.

In the first episode his podcast, “The Draymond Green Show,” since July, Green said, among many other things, that he almost retired until commissioner Adam Silver talked him out of it.

“I had a conversation with Adam Silver, the commissioner of our league,” Green said in the episode that was released Monday morning. “And I just told him, ‘Adam, it’s too much for me. Like, it’s too much. This is too much. It’s all becoming too much for me. And i’m going to retire.'”

“And Adam said, ‘You’re making a very rash decision, and I won’t let you do that.’ And I’m like, ‘No, Adam, I’m not really sure it’s a rash decision. It’s all too much.’ And we had a long, great conversation, very helpful to me. Very thankful to play in a league with a commissioner like Adam, who’s more about helping you than hurting.”

So let’s get this straight. It’s too much for Draymond that Draymond keeps hitting and choking people in the middle of basketball games? Got it. This is classic Draymond, rambling on about bonds and brotherhoods and the convenient romance of accountability. He says he and Steve Kerr cried together. His daughter had to FaceTime him as he was locked away in the man cave of his own house. He started counseling.

He offered, for really the first time, unqualified apologies. He said he failed his family, himself, his partners. He said he “miserably” failed the Warriors as an organization and, in particular, Stephen Curry, who found his leadership being questioned because of Green’s repeated antics.

And that’s what Green called them. Antics. He admitted what everyone besides him has always known, that he doesn’t have to cross a crazed-lunatic line to play with the competitive edge that defines him as a Hall of Fame player.

Green pledged to “stop taking the excuse and running with it and saying I can’t play the way I play if I don’t do this.”

“I love this game and I love to compete and you don’t just get to turn that off,” Green said. “But I’m also smart enough to know what an antic is and what isn’t. And I can get rid of the antics. I’m more than capable of doing that. I look forward to it.”

Look, I’m a Warriors fan and a fan of Draymond. It’s awesome he started counseling and, yes, these are all the right words. But that’s all they are. Words. In what could be classified as a narcissistic approach, Green actually loves to spill his heart out for everyone to hear, and it always, somehow, leads back to him and his feelings and his platform to sucker you into the romance of them.

But even his biggest fans, one of which I have long considered myself to be, are falling out of love with this act. Now it’s just exhausting. When it keeps happening over and over, it starts to seem like he just likes to hear himself talk so he can paint a picture of vulnerability and get the credit that comes with his brand of articulate accountability.

Indeed, he’s done this before. Of the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals after Green was suspended for Game 5 after another one of his flamboyant flails (this time below the belt to LeBron James), he said this: “One of the most brutal things I’ve ever had to go through in my life,” said Green, via ESPN. “If I played, we win of course, so I do feel it’s my fault that we lost. Absolutely my fault.”

How much more accountable can you be than to take personal ownership of one of the greatest sports collapses in history? And yet, the experience apparently wasn’t “brutal” enough for him to change.

Since then, Green has gone twice as far off the rails. Before he took on opponents, he knocked out his own teammate — then, as usual, did the half-hearted, look-at-me-and-all-my-self-awareness apology tour before taking the blame for ruining the Warriors’ 2022-23 season with the Jordan Poole punch.

All of which is to say, forgive me if I’m not particularly moved by Green’s self-conscious reach for sympathy. Saying how bad you feel about something doesn’t take away the bad part. It’s just a bunch of talking that is clearly contrived with the goal of scoring PR points. Once again, we’ll wait to see if his actions finally reflect this latest round of rueful rambling.

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Ja Morant
MEM • PG • #12
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Ja Morant is out for the season with a labral tear in his right shoulder that will require surgery. It’s devastating news for the Grizzlies, who were finally starting to establish some momentum after a horrendous start to the season. Memphis was 6-3 in the nine games Morant had played in, over which he averaged 25.1 points, 8.1 assists and 5.6 rebounds.

If there is any kind of silver lining in this, the Grizzlies should now be in position to land a lottery pick this summer (they currently have the sixth-best odds for the No. 1 pick).

With Morant expected to be fully recovered ahead of next season, when Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke should also be set to return, Memphis — which had probably dug too big a hole at 6-19 during Morant’s 25-game suspension to rise any higher than a Play-in berth anyway — can be in a legit position to compete for the 2024-25 title.

Again, this is a brutal loss for the Grizzlies. But Morant kind of screwed up their season already with the suspension. This sort of wipes the season officially clean of expectation and allows Taylor Jenkins and company to lean totally into the further development of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, both of whom can benefit from greater usage and opportunity for top-option growth over the remainder of this season.

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Tyrese Haliburton
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While the Morant injury was the worst-case scenario for the Grizzlies, Tyrese Haliburton’s hamstring injury, which has been ruled a Grade 1 strain, looks like it’s going to end up being a best-case scenario for the Pacers.

Had this thing been a Grade 2 or 3 tear, Haliburton could’ve been out for 2-3 months or even headed for surgery. Now the rough timetable is being set at a few week. This is still rough for a Pacers team trying to stay in the thick of the playoff race, but again, it’s the best news they could’ve hoped for after Haliburton had to be carried off the court. It looked a lot worse.

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LeBron James
LAL • SF • #23
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After the Lakers’ win over the Clippers on Sunday, which ended a four-game skid (they have lost 10 of their last 15), LeBron James, who has not been shy about showing and voicing his frustration of late, took what can only be described as a thinly veiled shot at his current coach, Darvin Ham, who is under immense scrutiny at the moment with multiple reports suggesting his seat is getting awfully hot, by going out of his way to compliment his former coach.

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