The incident is familiar enough to anyone who has been paying attention to the NBA this season. During a team practice in October during the preseason, Green and Poole exchanged words before Green knocked the 23-year-old guard to the ground after punching him in the head.
The Warriors made it to the Western Conference semifinals before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games, so they seemingly managed to shore up the conflict between the two players before it affected team chemistry too much. Or did they?
According to a recent report by ESPN, the dust-up between Green and Poole lingered throughout the year and had a lasting effect on the locker room.
Poole on Green Punch: ‘Maturity Is a Big Thing’
After a video of Green punching Poole leaked and made the rounds in October 2022, the Warriors largely handled the situation in-house, and after initial reports, not much was said about it.
When Golden State was eliminated by L.A. in the semis, though, Poole talked to ESPN about the incident with Green and revealed how he carried on after it happened.
“I don’t speak on it much,” Poole told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne about the incident. “But I will say that … you’ve got to have a different level of maturity. We had a season to play. You’re going to have to play with these people in the locker room, and that’s why I said maturity is a big thing. What I know for a fact is there aren’t many people who would be able to think logically and understand the magnitude of the situation, you know?”
According to Shelburne, the team may have tried to move past it, but the fight between Green and Poole created a fissure of sorts between the squad’s younger players and veterans such as Green, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
“It never felt quite right after that. For anyone,” Shelburne reported on May 13 in reference to the fight between one of the team’s oldest players and one of its youngest. “So much of why the Warriors didn’t come together this year can be traced back to why they nearly came apart at the beginning of the season. … Poole has stayed so quiet this year that it was rare to hear him discuss his true feelings candidly. But his feelings, as well as the frustrations of the Warriors’ other young players who struggled to earn consistent playing time, were well-known throughout the locker room, team sources say.”
Poole Is Coming Off Forgettable Postseason
Poole, who signed a four-year, $128 million contract extension this past season, averaged 20.4 points, 4.5 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 30 minutes a game this year (stats via ESPN), but when the postseason hit, his performance declined and so did his playing time.
Poole averaged 12 points a game in the first round of the playoffs against the Sacramento Kings, and it got worse against the Lakers. He averaged 8.3 points a game, shooting just 25% from 3-point range and 34.5% from the field. As a result, Warriors coach Steve Kerr reduced Poole’s playing time. After averaging 30 minutes a game throughout the season, Poole played just 20.7 points a game against L.A.
Considering Poole’s rocky past with Green — who may not be going anywhere — coupled with his price tag and poor postseason showing, could the Dubs decide to shop him?
Anthony Slater and Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on May 12 that while the Warriors were hesitant to move on from Poole, “if cost-cutting is required, he profiles as the likeliest candidate” to be traded.
Golden State’s season just ended, but it’s clear the drama surrounding the team is only just beginning.