Even when Draymond Green isn’t playing in an NBA game, he still manages to make news. The Golden State Warriors‘ versatile forward, who has been sharpening his broadcasting chops as a member of TNT’s “Inside the NBA” crew, let it be known loud and clear Friday night exactly how he felt about the Phoenix Suns. Despite the Suns’ surprising perfect start in the NBA bubble, Green openly campaigned for Devin Booker to demand a trade from Phoenix.
“It’s great to see Book playing well and Phoenix playing well, but get my man out of Phoenix,” Green said. “It’s not good for him, it’s not good for his career. Sorry Chuck, but they’ve gotta get Book out of Phoenix. I need my man to go somewhere that he can play great basketball all of the time and win, because he’s that kind of player.”
The comment made the rounds on social media, and while Green was acting as an NBA analyst, he’s still an active NBA player. So, the league punished him Sunday with a $50,000 fine for his comments. Per a release from the league:
“The NBA announced today that it has fined Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors $50,000 for violating the league’s anti-tampering rule. The fine is in response to statements Green made as an analyst on TNT on August 7 regarding the Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker. As announced prior to the start of the 2019-20 season, the NBA has adopted a stricter enforcement approach for conduct relating to tampering, salary cap circumvention, and free agency timing rules, including with respect to the rule prohibiting player-to-player tampering.”
It’s not surprising the NBA took action, and it’s also not surprising of Green’s comments about the Suns, despite the recent success they’ve found down in the Orlando bubble. Earlier in the season, the three-time NBA champion criticized Phoenix for how it handled Marquese Chriss, who ended up playing for the Warriors this season.
“He’s been in some pretty tough situations,” Green said after a preseason game. “No one ever blames the situation, though. It’s always the kid. No one ever blames these shitty franchises. They always want to blame the kid. It’s not always the kid’s fault. Let’s be frank about it, when he was there, the organization was terrible. Everything was going wrong. But he get blamed, like he’s the problem. When he left, ain’t nothing go right. That’s my take on it.”
Green clearly has an issue with how Phoenix does business, and while many would agree at any other point in time that perhaps Booker’s talents are best suited elsewhere, the timing of what he said couldn’t be more head-scratching. Since arriving in the bubble, the Suns have beaten the Mavericks, Clippers, Pacers and Heat and have seen incredible play not just from Booker, but Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson and — surprise — Cameron Payne. Now Phoenix is just a half-game back of the No. 9 spot in the West, which is all it needs to reach in order to force a play-in game for the final Western Conference playoff spot.
When asked about Green’s comments following Phoenix’s fifth straight win Saturday night against the Heat, Booker focused on how important this current success if for the franchise and its fans.
“I feel like that’s important for this organization, for the fans that have stuck by us for this long and still do so,” Booker said to reporters. “Since I’ve been in Phoenix, we haven’t had the win success that we had, but the support’s been there. And this is what we owe to the fans, we owe to the organization. It’s been a long time for us and I think this bubble opportunity was big for us, and we’re taking advantage of it.”
Phoenix is trending upwards, and its play in the bubble signals that its future is brighter than ever. Booker may eventually leave the Suns, but right now, while the team is finally functional and looking like it could contend for the postseason next year, that’s unlikely.