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How long will Draymond Green’s suspension be?

Gear up to be without the All-Star for a few days.

Close up of Draymond Green reacting to a call. Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

In case you missed it, another Draymond Green Incident™ happened on Tuesday night, as the short-handed Golden State Warriors lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the second time in three nights.

The long and short of it is that Klay Thompson and Jaden McDaniels got into quite a scuffle, which resulted in a clear-and-obvious ejection for the latter, and a fairly dubious (to my eye) ejection for the former. Rudy Gobert interjected — which the league has somewhat amusingly deemed to be as a “peacemaker” — and that’s when Green entered the picture.

Green has been beefing with Gobert since before any of us were born, and he finally saw an opportunity to go at him in the name of de-escalation and protecting his teammate. To be clear, I’m not saying that Green did those things ... just that Green saw that door as being open, grabbed all his weapons, strapped up his boots, and ran through it.

What happened was ugly, even if we can also admit that it was fairly funny. Green, known in the octagon more for his striking than his ground game, instead decided to show off his jiu-jitsu and put Gobert in a guillotine choke.

In Green’s defense, it worked. It immobilized Gobert and put an end to any hands that were on Klay.

But saying “in Green’s defense” is not a defense of Green. After the ejections were handed out, the jokes were made, and the dust had settled, we’re left with only one thing. This is not acceptable:

The question now is not if Draymond will be suspended ... it’s for how long. Violently putting hands on a player is pretty much an instant suspension, and it’s fait accompli with Green, a player the league openly admitted to punishing more harshly than other players due to his track record.

So how long will the suspension be? Let’s look at the few reasons for keeping it short ... and then the many more reasons for it being long.

What is working in Green’s favor

Not a lot, honestly.

He was not part of the initial scuffle

Perhaps the league will view it as a bad thing that Green got involved in an altercation that didn’t initially involve him, but I think it actually helps him here. For as poor and inexcusable as his actions were, it’s pretty clear that the initial goal was to break up the fight. Dray took it too far — way, way too far — but this wasn’t the type of unprovoked violence that we’ve seen from him in the past.

Gobert looks worse on replay

Steve Kerr and Warriors fans were fairly livid that after the refs looked at the replays, they didn’t discipline Gobert for his role in it. In a post-game scrum with The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, official Tyler Ford said that Gobert was not handed a technical foul or an ejection because he was playing the role of a “peacemaker.”

You can understand that in the heat of the moment, the officials were trying to get through the replays as fast as possible to restart a game that had only just tipped off. As they review the situation further, there’s a decent chance they may view Gobert’s role in the exchange a bit differently.

I feel the need to keep clarifying this, but none of what I’m saying justifies what Draymond did. He was in the wrong, substantially more than Gobert. Substantially more. But if, upon review, the league determines that Gobert was instigating and not peacemaking — or even peacemaking more aggressively than was necessary — it probably lends a little leniency Dray’s way.

No strikes

Truthfully, there’s not a lot of precedent in the NBA for punishing a physically violent act that doesn’t include strikes landed or attempted. I have no idea how the league is going to view this. Is it a positive that Green went for incapacitating Gobert rather than damaging him? I think we can all agree that if Dray had grabbed Gobert around the waist and pulled him off of Klay that the incident would be viewed very differently.

Of course, Dray didn’t do that, and necks are much different than waists. But the league may take more kindly to Green pulling someone out of the action rather than sending a fist into it.

Ja Morant and Miles Bridges

The NBA has, justifiably, received a lot of criticism for the way it handled Bridges’ suspension. Adam Silver only handed out a 30-game suspension to Bridges after he pled no contest to a felony domestic violence charge last year. That suspension was not modified in October, when Bridges was charged with violating his domestic violence protective order, injury to personal property, and misdemeanor child abuse. Morant, on the other hand — who, like Green, has had a few instances of poor behavior — was given a 25-game suspension for repeatedly flashing a gun on social media, among other problematic and troubling behavior.

I have no doubt that Silver would like to give Green a 20-game suspension, or something of the like. But given the PR pushback against Bridges’ lenient punishment, I don’t think the league will consider suspending someone for an ultimately harmless choke anywhere near as long as they suspended someone for a horrific bout of domestic violence and child abuse.

What is working against Green

Quite a lot!

That was a CHOKE

This is ultimately what I think will hurt Green the most. He didn’t pull Gobert out by the neck. I don’t even think it’s fair to call it a headlock, as has been the term flying around.

That was a choke. A full on “I spent my offseason in Stockton training with Nate Diaz” rear-naked choke. I don’t want to backseat MMA judge too much, but if you focus on Green, you can see his muscles flexing and his face tensing. He’s clearly trying to intensify the grip and pressure around Gobert’s neck. It’s pretty hard to watch that video and come to any conclusion except that he was going for a submission.

We can’t police players based on hypotheticals. But as a thought experiment, imagine if Green had put Gobert to sleep? It was never realistic, because the height difference would make it nearly impossible from that angle. But it only takes about five seconds of a well-set rear-naked choke to knock someone unconscious. Had Green let go of Gobert only when he was limp and unconscious on the court, he might be looking at a full-season suspension.

That didn’t happen, of course. But it sure feels like Dray wanted it to.

His reputation precedes him

Again, the league admitted that Green’s postseason suspension after stomping on Domantas Sabonis was in part due to his “history of unsportsmanlike acts.” I think in this particular case, you can read those four words as code for “whatever the suspension would be for a player with no reputation, double it for Dray.”

As a foul limit anarchist, I don’t agree with this line of reasoning, but I do understand it. And at least the league is open about it. Green should avoid choking people because it’s the right thing to do, but he should also do it because he knows it will hurt the team a lot.

He came out of nowhere

As much as it may help Green that he wasn’t the instigator in Tuesday’s fight, it hurts him that he came flying in from off stage to get involved. Look at where he initially is:

The league has made a huge deal of players not getting involved in other players’ scuffles. One of the swiftest punishments in the NBA is the automatic suspension for players who aren’t in the game and leave the bench area during a tussle. Green doesn’t fit that description, but the precedent still applies: if it doesn’t involve you, don’t get involved unless it’s to hold back a teammate.

It’s simply an awful look

Green can, and likely will point to the fact that a choke does not inflict the level of harm that a punch or even a shove does. I have no doubt that Thompson is more dinged and bruised from the fight than Gobert is. But the optics are awful.

Chokes just look violent. They look harsh. They look like someone has bad intentions. These pictures are flying around the internet far more than any punch, kick, slap, or stomp ... hell, even more than when Rajon Rondo spit on Chris Paul.

It’s an awful look, and the league will want to send a message regardless.

The verdict

I think anything between two and 10 games is on the table here, though 10 games would make me pretty uncomfortable given the aforementioned Bridges stuff.

I’ll predict that Draymond Green gets suspended for four games.

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