Free speech Warrior: Draymond Green wants to talk – and protect players

Warriors forward Draymond Green
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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The NBA has championed players advocating for social justice. The NBA has pushed the idea of players vouching for coronavirus vaccines.

The NBA also fined Anthony Davis for publicly requesting a trade then scolded him for speaking further publicly about his situation.

“We’re all in support of everybody running and yelling Black Lives Matter. We’re all in support of everyone promoting vaccines and all of these things,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “But we’re not in support of you saying where you want to be. Why?”

“We don’t muzzle players on situations that are big in the world, because we can’t, because we know the backlash that that comes with. But we muzzle players with situations that are not huge with the world because we know we can get away with it.”

Green has become the NBA’s most outspoken advocate on behalf of players, particularly their right to speak out. Stirred by Andre Drummond‘s situation with the Cavaliers, Green recently attacked the double standards he saw within the league. LeBron James echoed him.

In a recent interview, Green elaborated on his stances.

I told Green the NBA seems to fine players for trade requests only when the trade request is made publicly on the record. If a player’s trade request is merely reported in the media with anonymous sourcing – even if it’s abundantly obvious the information is coming from the player’s camp – the league hasn’t levied penalties. That’s why James Harden avoided a fine.

The Cavs haven’t gone on the record with their Drummond plans. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN attributed the key details of his report to “sources.” Theoretically, the Cavaliers weren’t involved in revealing Drummond’s status.

“Don’t give me implausible deniability,” Green said. “Because that’s ridiculous.”

Green brought up a fine he received in 2019. Several Golden State players demonstrated their umbrage with the officiating during a game refereed by Marat Kogut. Afterward, Green tweeted “TD” and “MK.” People inferred he was conflating disgraced referee Tim Donaghy with Kogut. But Green never admitted that publicly. Still, the NBA docked him $35,000 for “making statements on social media which impugned the integrity of NBA officiating.”

So, no, Green is not willing let the Cavs skate just because they haven’t said anything on the record.

“If that’s implausible deniability – where we see a guy get sat down, not suited up, extremely healthy, having a great season, but it didn’t come from the team and it came from sources that they’re looking to trade Andre Drummond,” Green said, “if that’s implausible deniability, I’d love my fine money back.”

I’m with Green on his fundamental issue: Let players speak.

Whether a trade request by a player/trade plan implemented by the team is made on the record or under the cloak of anonymity is a silly distinction for the league to make. If people can get their messages out anyway, let them use their names without fear of fine.

Not only is this forced quasi-silence unfair to the players who want to speak publicly about their own situations, it’s a disservice to fans who want an accurate understanding of what’s happening in the league they follow and spend money on.

Drummond remaining in limbo also bothers Green.

A short time after Cleveland began sitting Drummond, Blake Griffin and the Pistons reached a similar impasse. He and Detroit already agreed to a buyout, and Griffin signed with the Nets.

Two more situations have emerged even since I talked to Green on Wednesday. LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t playing for the Spurs, and P.J. Tucker isn’t playing for the Rockets. It’s unclear exactly how the players feel about their situations (maybe in part, because the league prohibits them from saying certain things).

In fairness, when the Pelicans wanted to sit Anthony Davis – a superstar – the NBA threatened to fine them. NBA commissioner Adam Silver argued sitting a healthy Davis would undermine the entertainment product.

But there are gray areas.

Drummond isn’t quite having the “great season” Green said. Jarrett Allen is Cleveland’s best center and usurped Drummond’s starting role. At that point, Drummond – in a contract year – might have preferred sitting out rather than becoming viewed as a backup entering free agency. The Cavaliers have JaVale McGee as fine backup center. Wojnarowski’s report gave the impression sitting Drummond was at least a somewhat mutual decision between the team and player.

Likewise, Aldridge and Tucker are having down years and might prefer sitting while awaiting a resolution.

Besides, the Collective Bargaining Agreement – ratified by the players’ union – allows teams to trade or not trade players. Teams pay players for, among other things, the right to trade them.

In theory, the system could be reimagined. The union could push for greater player control, making concessions elsewhere (like salary).

But Green is not some hardliner on that.

“We’ve got to keep some balance here,” Green said. “I’m not arguing that at all. I don’t think just because a guy said ‘I want to be traded’ that you have to trade him. At the end of the day, if you sign a contract, you signed that contract. Whether that team decides that they want to honor your request or not, it’s on that on that team because you signed a contract. Now, when you sign that contract, yes, it does suck that you can’t determine whether you’re going to be traded or not but the team can. But, hey, it is what is because you decided to sign that contract. So, you have to live with that. Those are the rules. I have no complaints with that.”

These situations will tend to work themselves out, anyway.

Even Green acknowledged Harden was “dogging it his last days in Houston.” That probably contributed to the Rockets honoring his trade request. But that doesn’t bother Green.

“One thing about this game people don’t really take into consideration is your heart has got to be in it,” Green said. “If your heart’s not in it, it’s hard to go in night in and night out and produce at the level we’re expected to produce at if your heart’s not in it.

“His heart wasn’t there. Who am I to judge and say James Harden is dead wrong how he was playing if his heart wasn’t in it?”

Some of Green’s complaints are deeply personal.

He again brought up his tampering fine for saying Devin Booker should leave the Suns. “They said I was tampering,” Green said. “What am I tampering with?! My opinion?”

But this doesn’t fit neatly into Green’s pro-player campaign. The NBA’s arbitrary tampering enforcement leaves everyone – owners, management, coaches, players – unsatisfied. If anything, the league has been especially lenient toward players.

Green also said: “You see conduct detrimental to the team. You see conduct detriment to the league. But you never see conduct detrimental to the player.” I thought he was referring to poorly run organizations failing to develop young players then the players getting blamed, a complaint he has lodged in the past. Instead, Green’s example was having his reputation tarnished for getting ejected yet again – even though it was for yelling at his own teammate.

This isn’t just some personal vendetta, though.

Green has spent his entire career with the Warriors. He hasn’t even really been involved in trade rumors.

But he’s highly sympathetic to players who get dealt in less than ideal circumstances.

In his initial comments, Green criticized the Mavericks for letting Harrison Barnes learn he was traded during a game and the Kings for telling DeMarcus Cousins during his All-Star post-game press conference they traded him. Green expanded the complaint to include “guys finding out an hour before the game that they’re going to be in trade talks and won’t suit up until they’re traded or bought out.”

So, players shouldn’t get traded too close to a game starting, during a game or too soon after a game?

That’s infeasible. Trades involve too many people to always keep a deal under wraps until each player involved can be told simultaneously.

I wish I could have challenged Green more on the areas where I think he’s too clouded by personal experience or missing the mark for other reasons. Perhaps, he would have persuaded me. But even further discussion would have been illuminating. People disagreeing and discussing it is a great way to gain understanding and make progress. That’s why I was so pleased Green raised these issues in the first place, even the parts I disagreed with.

Unfortunately, Green – who was promoting using the #MySubwaySub hashtag and the promo code BOGO50 on the Subway app – had limited time for the interview.

But you can be certain he won’t let the conversation end here.

“My mom was very adamant to me as a young kid, when you have something that you want to say, when you have something that you believe in,” Green said, “don’t ever be afraid to speak on it.”

T.J. Warren still out for Nets; team to reassess status in November

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The Brooklyn Nets bet that the T.J. Warren from the bubble in Orlando — the one who averaged 26.6 points and 6.3 rebounds a game for the Pacers — would re-emerge and give them a quality forward they could mix into a deep rotation.

Instead, so far it has looked more like the Warren who has played just four games since the bubble due to stress fractures in his foot.

Warren is improving and the Nets are bringing him along slowly, keeping him off the court until November at least, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Small forward T.J. Warren, who has missed nearly two full seasons following multiple foot surgeries, is “doing some shooting” and “a little bit more movement the last two weeks than he was prior,” Nash said. He added that Warren will be reassessed in about a month.

The Nets can afford to be patient. They have plenty of other questions to answer as a team before worrying about what Warren can or cannot contribute. But in the dream scenario where everything comes together for the Nets this season, Warren gets healthy and becomes a valuable contributor off the bench giving the Nets more versatility, scoring, and shooting along the front line.

For now, the Nets and Warren wait.

NBA returning to Seattle for exhibition game; when will it be more?

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SEATTLE — An NBA preseason game may not seem like a benchmark moment, even in a basketball-hungry city like Seattle, but Jamal Crawford believes there’s value even in an exhibition.

“It reignites a whole new generation of kids who need to see this,” said Crawford, a Seattle native who has been a basketball ambassador for the city through a 20-year NBA career and now with a pro-am that brings in NBA players every summer. “They need to be able to dream and know that it’s real.”

The NBA is making its latest brief return to the Emerald City. The Los Angeles Clippers will play the Portland Trail Blazers there on Monday night, the first time two NBA teams will meet in Seattle since 2018, when the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings played a preseason game. That was the last sporting event inside KeyArena before it was gutted and rebuilt into the gleaming Climate Pledge Arena.

There was a warm-up act of sorts Friday when the Clippers played Israeli team Maccabi Ra’anana in an exhibition, one where the most of the Clippers’ big names – Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, John Wall and Reggie Jackson – weren’t participating.

A sell-out crowd turned out for that Warriors-Kings game four years ago, the first one in Seattle since the beloved SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008 after 41 years in the Pacific Northwest. Another big crowd is expected Monday.

“The Sonics haven’t been a team since I’ve been in the NBA. So just to go play in Seattle is cool,” Blazers star Damian Lillard said. “We played in Vancouver a few years back. I think like two or three years ago, we had a preseason game at the (Memorial) Coliseum. So every time we get to do something like that, I always enjoy it because I wondered what was it like when it was a real thing, when the games were played in these different arenas. So I am excited to play in Seattle.”

Someday, possibly soon, the expectations are that Seattle will reclaim its place as an NBA town.

“It’s always been a great city to me,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said Friday. “It’s unfortunate that they lost their team and the team went to OKC. This city definitely deserves a team.”

Speculation is nonstop about when the NBA will choose to expand. Thanks to the resolution of its arena situation, Seattle seems likely to be at the forefront of those expansion talks, with Las Vegas likely right behind it.

But NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been noncommittal about a possible expansion timeline, and it seems likely those talks won’t pick up steam until the league deals with the new collective bargaining agreement and television deals that are on the horizon.

The community’s commitment has never been in question. The appetite of Seattle fans hasn’t waned in the years since the Sonics left and as the region became a hotbed for NBA talent, whether it was Crawford continuing to carry the banner for the city, to Zach LaVine of Renton, Washington, to this year’s No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, another Seattle native.

As if any reinforcement was needed, the summer provided a perfect example as fans camped overnight outside Crawford’s summer league venue for the chance to get inside and watch LeBron James make his first basketball visit to the city in more than a decade.

“Anyone that knows Seattle knows what a great basketball city we are,” Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said this summer when the preseason game was announced.

The idea for having the Blazers and Clippers meet in Seattle was the result of a brainstorm between Lue and Blazers coach Chauncey Billups. The two close friends wanted their teams to meet in the preseason and Lue noted the owners for both teams are Seattle based: Steve Ballmer of the Clippers and Jody Allen for the Blazers.

“I haven’t been back since I played there in 2008, I think it was. So just to be able to go back there and you know, Mr. Ballmer and kind of see his offices and how he lives, and (Chauncey) to get a chance to see his owner, and then to be with my best friend, I thought it would be a great common ground,” Lue said.

Steven Adams inks two-year, $25.2 million extension with Grizzlies

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Steven Adams signed a two-year, $25.2 million contract extension with Memphis, which will keep him tied to the team through the 2024-25 season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojanrowski broke the news on Saturday.

Adams has been crucial to the Grizzlies’ recent success. He’s coming off his first season with the team, where he averaged career-highs in rebounds (10.0) and assists (3.4). He also helped them lock up the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference and make it to the Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the eventual-champion Warriors 4-2. Despite the improved numbers, a lot of his value is from intangibles that don’t show up in the box score.

Adams spent the first seven years of his career with the Thunder before being traded to New Orleans in the four-team deal that sent Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee. Adams was moved again to Memphis in a package for Jonas Valanciunas.

Adams has found a new home with a young Grizzlies team that is looking to win a championship. The team is built around Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, but Jackson Jr. is expected to miss time after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot. Memphis will rely on Adams more than ever to begin the season.

Watch Curry, Klay in 3-point shooting contest in Japan. Yeah, they’re good at this.

NBA Japan Games Saturday Night
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The NBA went to Japan to promote the brand, play a few games in a huge market — Japan specifically but Asia as a whole — and put on a show.

Is there a better show than Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson draining 3s? Here they are in a 3-point contest during a basketball exhibition (there were some pro dunkers) in Tokyo on Saturday.

Stephen Curry, was there any other possible outcome?

It’s preseason and they are the defending champs — they should be having fun, playing with some joy.

Thompson took part in the shooting contest but is not playing in either of the exhibition games in Japan as the Warriors ease him back into play this season. It’s a marathon of a season and the Warriors need the best version of Klay starting in April, not October.