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Draymond’s return is reportedly in the hands of the players

According to Zach Lowe and Kendra Andrews, the Warriors players — not the coaching staff or front office — will determine Green’s return.

Draymond Green high-fiving teammates as he’s introduced before a game Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors weren’t trying to be the story of the offseason, but here they are. It’s been less than a week since Draymond Green punched Jordan Poole during a practice and the Dubs — who raised a trophy just four months ago — have been the talk of the NBA preseason ever since.

It’s still unclear how the situation will get resolved. Green hasn’t been with the team since, but expressed a desire to play on opening night, which would allow him to take part in his fourth ring ceremony. The Warriors are limited in how much they can fine him, but they could suspend him to start the season ... or following that initial game.

But it seems like that decision will come less from the front office or from Steve Kerr, and more from the players. On Tuesday, a new episode of The Lowe Post podcast was released, in which ESPN’s Zach Lowe spoke with colleague Kendra Andrews, and ESPN Andscape’s Marc Spears. Lowe is as tuned in and connected as any analyst, and Andrews and Spears are Warriors insiders.

Naturally, they had a lot to say about the situation, and the biggest news seems to be that the decision of when to bring back Green will rest with the players.

“Kevon Looney spoke after a preseason game where Jordan Poole played amazingly, and was pretty blunt about how Draymond needs to win back the trust of the team going forward,” said Lowe. “He’s away from the team. I don’t know really if this is a suspension or not, if it counts as that until he misses a real game. But he’s away from the team, and from what I understand will be away from the team until the players decide it’s time for him to come back.”

Later in the podcast, Andrews confirmed Lowe’s statement, saying, “The Warriors are really taking [Jordan Poole’s] lead in how they want to handle this ... it’s really gonna be up to the players on when Draymond returns, and how much he’s around. And Jordan is at the very top of that.”

Lowe responded to that by adding, “We don’t know what that means — is there gonna be a vote, is there gonna be a leadership council — but I’ve been told emphatically this will not be a front office and coach-driven decision.”

Hopefully reports like this don’t put too much pressure on Poole, who obviously needs to move on from the incident at whatever pace is right for him. But so far it seems like he’s doing all right.

“He has been nothing but even keeled and professional during this time,” Andrews noted, before turning to his behavior following Sunday’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers. “He was the same old Jordan. If the video hadn’t been leaked, and this hadn’t been magnetized anymore, you’d think this team had put this in the past.”

That’s encouraging!

There were a few other notable nuggets that were mentioned during the podcast. Spears was quick to point out that Poole’s cockiness — which one report had mentioned as a catalyst for the incident — has been around since he was drafted, and that Green loves it. But he also revealed that the writing may have been on the wall for this, saying, “It appears that there’s a boiling point perhaps between these two coming, and as ugly as it was, it’s probably better for this team that it happens before this season starts than during the season, or during the playoffs.”

All three of the insiders were adamant that there had been no tension regarding contract status, with Spears saying, “I don’t think that Jordan Poole’s money has anything to do with it ... Draymond has a mouth, Jordan has a mouth.”

Spears also touched on Green’s quote that “hurt people hurt people,” saying he’s heard of some serious things that Green is currently battling. Spears added that, “Sad thing is, the court is supposed to be your sanctuary. It’s supposed to be where you leave your troubles in the locker room, and not bring them to the court. Unfortunately, I don’t know what Jordan said, but it pushed a button. And I know probably where Draymond’s from, if you push me you could get swung on ... it’s not saying it was right, I just think where Draymond’s from, if someone pushes you, that’s how you respond.”

Despite that, Spears said that after a few days away from the team, Green is in good spirits. He noted that the four-time All-Star is still working out at the facility, just leaving before the rest of the team shows up. “He’s in a really good place, he still hopes to play opening night” Spears noted. “I think if the guys said ‘Come back tomorrow,’ he’d be there with cupcakes, and smoothies, and donuts, ready to try and patch things up.”

Finally, Lowe pushed back on any momentum that a Green trade had gathered. He was quick to point out that the Warriors only option is to try and work through this, saying, “Would they really lose that much if they turned Draymond Green into Jae Crowder, or De’Andre Hunter — these are just fake names that people are throwing out. But yeah, yeah they would! The minute Steph Curry runs a pick and roll with Player X, and he gets trapped, and Player X has a four-on-three from the top of the arc, and that player’s not Draymond, you’re gonna appreciate how fast Draymond’s mind works, and how great his vision is. The minute you try to go five out without a center, and have somebody guard Nikola Jokić in the playoffs, you’re gonna appreciate how great Draymond Green is.”

And to that I say: he ain’t wrong, folks.

So for now, we wait. The Warriors will play their penultimate preseason game on Tuesday night, exactly a week before they kick off a title defense.

When Green returns will depend on the players, which seems like the smartest way to handle this without hurting feelings or bruising egos. But given what the Dubs have been through together — and what Poole is likely used to given his own fiery temperament — it seems like the best defensive player in the world will be back at Chase Center soon.

Or as Spears put it: “I’d be surprised if he’s not back in the fold by this weekend.”

You can check out this episode of “The Lowe Post” here. The Warriors segment begins at the 51:45 mark.

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