Tuesday marked the third time this season that Warriors forward Draymond Green was sent off from a game. He was assessed a flagrant 2 foul for hitting Suns center Jusuf Nurkic in the head during the third quarter of Phoenix’s victory (Twitter video link via TSN Sports).
According to Anthony Slater and Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic, the NBA is anticipated to investigate the incident before to the Warriors’ game against the Clippers on Thursday and will probably suspend Green for a second time this season. Due to Green’s “history of unsportsmanlike acts,” the league already punished the former Defensive Player of the Year for five games for placing Rudy Gobert in a headlock.
“I am not one to apologize for things I mean to do, but I do apologize to Jusuf because I didn’t intend to hit him,” Green said after the game, per Kendra Andrews of ESPN. “I sell calls with my arms…so I was selling the call…and I swung and unfortunately I hit him.
“You guys have known me long enough, if I intended to do something, I am not apologizing. But I did make contact with him, so I do apologize. It’s a hard hit.”
Nurkic was knocked to the ground by the blow, but he managed to continue the game. He claimed to reporters following the win that the play had “nothing to do with basketball,” but according to Andrews, Suns head coach Frank Vogel called it “reckless (and) dangerous.”
“I’m sensitive to our guys getting hit on plays like that,” Vogel said. “I didn’t like it. The refs did what they had to do. The league will do what they have to do.”
Young players like Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and possibly Trayce Jackson-Davis, as well as veterans Dario Saric and Kevon Looney, might see increased playing time if Green is suspended again.
With Green out and starters Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Looney sitting on the bench, Kuminga, Saric, rookie Brandin Podziemski, and Chris Paul made up Golden State’s final starting lineup on Tuesday.
After the game, Thompson, whose shooting and scoring totals this season are much below his career averages, told reporters that it was “strange” to be benched late in the game, but he didn’t challenge head coach Steve Kerr’s choice.
“I played like crap,” Thompson said, per Andrews. “If you’ve ever played basketball before, you know what you are capable of. You always want to be out there competing. That’s just facts…but I deserved to be benched. I’ve been playing like crap. Twenty games in, I haven’t found a rhythm.”