The Golden State Warriors earlier this week welcomed back Klay Thompson after he spent years sidelined by injury — then promptly lost another member of the team’s famed Big 3 in the very same game.
Dubs’ forward Draymond Green hurt his calf as he warmed up to play against the Cleveland Cavaliers inside the Chase Center on Sunday, January 9 — the same day Thompson returned from a two and a half year NBA absence. Green took the floor as part of the starting lineup for purposes of the long-awaited reunion, then immediately committed a foul and left the floor.
Green hasn’t taken the court during a game since, and it appears that he won’t again any time soon. Anthony Slater, of The Athletic, broke the bad news via Twitter Wednesday morning.
“Draymond Green won’t play in Milwaukee or Chicago,” Slater wrote. “Steve Kerr said ‘I guess there’s a chance’ Green could rejoin Warriors in Minnesota, but ‘doubtful.’ Likely out for entire road trip.”
Green’s Injury Likely to Knock Warriors Down in West Standings
It is hard to imagine the timing of Green’s injury being any worse. Not only does it take a significant amount of air out of Thompson’s return, it also robs the Warriors of the NBA’s best-rated defender during a particularly challenging four-game road trip.
Green already sat out of a 116-108 loss to the rising Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, a defeat that dropped the Dubs out of the top spot in the Western Conference. Golden State now trails the Phoenix Suns by a full game, while the Utah Jazz and the Grizzlies have crept to within two and half games of the Warriors.
Next on the schedule is a back-to-back against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks and the Eastern Conference-leading Chicago Bulls on Thursday and Friday nights, respectively. The trip will wind down Sunday in Minneapolis against the Minnesota Timberwolves, a game Golden State will probably need to win to have any chance of breaking even on the road trip after starting it off 0-1.
The Dubs will follow the stretch of travel with a reprieve in the form of a seven-game home stand that starts out with three contests against teams with losing records — the Detroit Pistons, the Indiana Pacers and the Houston Rockets. As of Wednesday, the Pistons and the Rockets own the second- and third-worst records in the NBA, respectively, with only the Orlando Magic posting a lower win/loss mark.
Thompson on Minutes Restriction For Foreseeable Future
Complicating things further is the gradual process of bringing Thompson back to full-time status.
Head coach Steve Kerr has noted that his five-time All-Star shooting guard will remain on a minutes restriction for the time being. Thompson started and played 20 minutes in each of his first two games back, scoring 17 and 14 points in those outings.
Kerr also said that Thompson will not play in back-to-backs, at least for now, meaning he will sit against either the Bucks or the Bulls, leaving Steph Curry as the sole member of the team’s Big 3 to try and lead a pack of role players to a victory over one of the Eastern Conference’s most formidable foes.
None of this is to say that there is any reason to panic in Golden State. The Warriors produced a league-leading record through 38 regular season games without a minute of playing time from Thompson, and the Dubs continue to solely occupy the second place position in both the Western Conference and the entire NBA.
But Warriors fans have waited what has seemed like an interminable length of time to witness Curry, Thompson and Green all on the floor together again. Unfortunately, they’re going to have to put that dream on pause for at least a little while longer.