Warriors' Draymond Green, Steve Kerr admit punch incident with Jordan Poole hindered season

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 25: (L-R) Draymond Green #23 and Jordan Poole #3 of the Golden State Warriors walk to the bench during the second half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center on October 25, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Warriors 134-105. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Warriors veteran Draymond Green punched budding star Jordan Poole in October. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Golden State Warriors have had some time to reflect after they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals. After the exit, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told reporters the group was "not a championship team." He elaborated in his exit interview Tuesday, citing chemistry as a key roadblock.

"There's no hiding from it — the incident with Draymond [Green] and Jordan [Poole] at the beginning of the year played a role in that," Kerr said. "It's hard for that not to impact a team."

A Warriors veteran, Green punched Poole during training camp. The incident was captured on video and leaked to the public. Green spent a week away from the team in what was said to be a mutual decision with the organization. He was back on the court for Golden State's season opener.

Poole, 23, signed a four-year, $128 million extension with the team shortly after the altercation. While he averaged 20.4 points and 4.5 assists this season, both career highs, he also saw a drop in his efficiency rating.

Amid Poole's intermittent struggles, the Warriors dealt with an 11-30 road record and ranked second-to-last in transition efficiency. To Kerr, lack of trust among the team changed the trajectory.

"Anytime some trust is lost, then it makes the process much more difficult, and there was some trust lost," he said. "That's as blunt as I can be. We have to get back to what has made us really successful, which is a really trusting environment and a group that relies on one another and makes each other better."

Green spoke with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith during Game 1 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday and echoed Kerr's sentiments. The Warriors "would still be playing" had he not punched Poole, he said. Green claimed the altercation compromised his ability to lead in the locker room as he normally would. He also said it prevented him from helping Poole, as their relationship predictably took a hit.

When asked Saturday about how the situation impacted the season, Poole definitely had less words to say than Green.

"I mean, we made it to the second round of the playoffs," Poole said. "We had a good season, guys stepped up and had a lot of exciting moments. I don't think there was anything that was changing any of that."

He was also asked about his relationship with Green in an interview with The Ringer. “I don’t have no answer for you,” Poole said. "Other than that, we was just on the court and teammates, and we was out there trying to win games."

Poole and Green are both facets of a group of key members the Warriors dynasty could lose this offseason.

Green has a $27.6 million player option for the 2023-24 season. If he declines, he will become an unrestricted free agent. Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers, Jonathan Kuminga, Klay Thompson and even Kerr's futures are reportedly up in the air.