Draymond Green and Kevin Durant will face off tonight for the first time since their confrontation two years ago that some believe led to Durant leaving the Warriors, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports. The dispute resulted from a situation late in a tie game when Green grabbed a defensive rebound, dribbled the ball upcourt and committed a turnover rather than giving it to Durant. Green, who received a one-game suspension from the team for the incident, reportedly challenged Durant about his impending free agency.
Poole doesn’t expect the two players to be matched up directly very often tonight, as Green typically guards the interior with three centers sidelined, while Durant is usually on the perimeter. However, Green, who missed the December 22 game with the Nets, may look at the matchup as a chance to make a statement.
“The one thing we all know about Draymond is there’s not a better competitor, not a player who looks forward to competition more, than Draymond,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “So, I know he’s looking forward to (Saturday).”
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- ESPN’s Nick Friedell believes Durant may consider a return to the Warriors before his career is over, relays Grant Liffman of NBC Sports. Appearing on the DubsTalk podcast, Friedell suggested that Durant’s time away from the team has healed some old wounds and that “he’s going to do what he feels most comfortable with in that moment” when it comes time for his next career decision. Durant is under contract through the end of next season and has a $43,928,850 player option for 2022/23.
- Jalen Smith hasn’t seen much playing time in his first NBA season, but the Suns are content to bring him along slowly, according to Kevin Zimmerman of Arizona Sports 98.7. Smith, who was sidelined by COVID-19 in parts of December and January, has appeared in just seven games, averaging. 6.9 minutes per night. “He’s a diligent worker,” coach Monty Williams said. “I don’t think any young player understands how hard you have to work to be a good player in this league. He embraced that part, which we’re really pleased with. He doesn’t miss days to get work in.”
- The Lakers‘ LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma both received warnings for flopping in Friday’s game against the Grizzlies, the NBA announced on its website.