Tuesday evening brought forth far more drama than anyone anticipated, even in a game between the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors. In the third quarter of this divisional matchup, play was stopped just a few minutes in as Draymond Green inexplicably took a swing at Phoenix center Jusuf Nurkic, connecting with the left side of Nurkic's head.
For a moment, it was difficult to understand what had happened. One minute, Nurkic was simply guarding against an entry pass to Green, and the next, he was on the ground. While the motives are still puzzling, the blow itself is not entirely shocking when one considers Green's history in the league.
According to CBS Sports' Jack Maloney, that history consists of 19 instances of Green being ejected, with this latest instance being the nineteenth. Among those instances is Draymond's still baffling decision to put Rudy Gobert in a headlock back on Nov. 15.
Though he later claimed he was simply coming to his teammate's defense, he seemed far more interested in putting hands on Gobert than protecting Klay Thompson, who was involved in a conflict with Jaden McDaniels at the time.
Given that the situation had not even aged a month before the incident with Jusuf Nurkic, expectations were that Draymond Green would be facing quite the punishment. One day later, it would be announced that Green would be receiving his most severe punishment yet for his career.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday night that the league decided to not only suspend Draymond Green once again but to do so indefinitely. This is not the first time that a player has been suspended indefinitely by the league. The most recent example came in 2010 when then-Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas brought a firearm into the locker room. In the end, the suspension would last 50 games.
Did the NBA get Draymond Green's latest punishment right?
It won't be easy to say until after the entirety of the suspension has run its course. As of now, Draymond's suspension could last as long as Arena's did or even the rest of the season, but there is an opportunity for it to be much shorter as long as he cooperates.
According to Wojnarowski, Green and his agent, Rich Paul, will meet with Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. on Thursday to discuss the details of Green's suspension, specifically the path to his return, which is said to include counseling among other methods of help.
How long will this rehabilitation process take? How quickly will Green be welcomed back to the league after they are completed? These are both great questions and will ultimately answer the question of whether or not the league got the punishment right.
At this moment, there doesn't appear to be much in terms of regret from Green's side, short of a postgame apology to an absent Nurkic while simultaneously blaming him for grabbing his hip, which led to Green swinging his arms in an effort to "sell the call." He also made sure to take the time to make it known that he was not a flopper.
While it is entirely possible that Green makes the most of this opportunity and returns truly reformed, that scenario is not exactly the odds-on favorite. Even still, the focus from the league, including the NBA's executive vice president and president of basketball operations, Joe Dumars, has been the need to get Draymond's help.
If that turns out to be disingenuous, or if this becomes little more than a public PR move, the NBA runs the risk of doing themselves serious reputational harm. At the same time, if Green is unwilling to buy in, a return will become more difficult with each passing day.