In case you missed the news, Draymond Green has returned to the Golden State Warriors. After being away from the team for a week following an incident between his fist and Jordan Poole’s face, Green returned to practice on Thursday, and is set to play in Friday’s preseason finale against the Denver Nuggets.
Poole will also play, because there’s no use separating the two. Either the band is back together or it isn’t. And it is.
That’s not to say it will be comfortable all the way, which Green has already acknowledged and dismissed. Speaking after Thursday’s return to practice, Green — who noted after the incident that he loves Poole, and has a locker next to him for a reason — spoke about having a personal relationship with his teammate, and said, “That’s not up to me, nor do I think there is much relevance. We’re paid to do a job and we are going to do that job to the best of our abilities.”
But it’s safe to say that a ton of eyes will be on the pair tonight when they suit up on ESPN2.
Here are a few things to watch for.
Do they behave normally towards each other?
Green and Poole’s relationship is going to be under a microscope for the next few days, or probably weeks, or perhaps months, or maybe even seasons.
That starts tonight. Will there be any abnormalities in the way they behave? We know social media will catch if they sit next to each other on the bench, or hug — or, going the other direction, if they don’t high five on a certain play.
And what if they jaw at each other at some point, as is commonplace between the two and teammates. Will that be a sign that the past is the past and they’ve let go of tension? Or will it be a sign that things are still tense and need smoothing over?
What happens with playing time?
Not only is Green playing vs. the Nuggets, but Klay Thompson is too. Which means the Warriors will have their presumed starting lineup — Green, Thompson, Steph Curry, Andrew Wiggins, and Kevon Looney — all together for the first time this year.
I’m assuming that’s who will start. But is there a chance that Kerr brings Green or Thompson off the bench to reward Poole for his maturity and professionalism during this awkward dance?
On the one hand, it would be kinda weird to welcome Green back into the fold by placing him straight into the starting lineup ... at Poole’s expense. On the other hand, it comes across as treating Poole with kid gloves if he gets a token start.
And will Kerr stagger the lineups at all to keep them from sharing the court together?
My guess is they run with the normal starting lineup and no weird rotations. I think Kerr will treat in-game situations like nothing happened. But I’m curious.
How will the crowd react to Green?
Draymond has fallen out of favor with some fans for his actions, and it’s not hard to understand why. On the other hand, he’s been with the franchise for more than a decade, is one of the greatest players in Warriors history, and has a championship ring for every major incident that makes you roll your eyes at him.
Will fans give him a tepid ovation when he’s announced? A raucous one? Will they boo?
In all likelihood, we won’t learn much tonight from watching the two share the court. But it won’t keep anyone from looking for signs.