Danny Green learned from a public player holdout before Ben Simmons and the Sixers
What did Green glean from Kawhi Leonard’s spat with the Spurs? “How we’re supposed to handle it in the media, as teammates, as a group, as a brother, as a friend.”
While there are some differences, Danny Green has witnessed a situation similar to the current Ben Simmons Saga.
In the spring of 2017, Kawhi Leonard was an MVP candidate and heir apparent to Tim Duncan on the throne of San Antonio Spurs’ royalty. But the small forward’s relationship with the team deteriorated after an injury as hard feelings developed over a span of 18 months.
It ultimately led the Spurs to trade Leonard to the Toronto Raptors in 2018. Green was packaged as part of the deal.
Now with the 76ers, Green is dealing with the uncertainty of Simmons’ future with the team. Simmons, who requested a trade, ended his 14-day holdout on Monday. The Sixers are hopeful he’ll remain with the team this season and have publicly supported the three-time All-Star.
So has Green, who believes the Sixers are better with Simmons on the court.
“We know how effective, how good we could be with him,” Green said. “We’re definitely a contender. Not saying we aren’t without him. We think we are a very good team. A playoff basketball team that can get some things done. But with him we know we are a championship contender from the jump.”
» READ MORE: Playing Ben Simmons gives the Sixers the best chance to win a championship
Aside from health, the Sixers’ positive support might be the single biggest difference in Green’s latest experience with a player holdout.
Leonard, who suffered a nagging quadriceps injury, only played nine games during the 2017-18 season. During that period, his representatives disagreed with the team over the best way to treat the injury.
The arguments came to a head when teammates reportedly questioned the severity of the injury in a players-only meeting and begged him to return to the lineup. For the record, Green was among multiple Spurs to dispute that report,. yet Leonard’s relationship with the team was soured to the point of no return.
“How we handled it with the media, I feel like it was a lot more hectic back then,” Green said. “Obviously social media was big, but not as big as it is now. Every day it was something Kawhi, something this, something that, everything.
“[What you learn] from it is how we’re supposed to handle it in the media, as teammates, as a group, as a brother, as a friend.”
Back then, the Spurs made statements they later felt were taken out of context. One example was when Tony Parker was asked about returning from a career-threatening quad injury in May 2017.
“I’ve been through it,” Parker said. “It was a rehab for me for eight months. Same kind of injury [as Kawhi], but mine was a hundred times worse. But the same kind of injury. You just stay positive.”
» READ MORE: Is Ben Simmons back to play for 76ers? Doc Rivers: ‘We’ll all find that out’
It was later noted that Parker intended to use his experience to motivate Leonard, not criticize him. But noting that his injury “was a hundred times worse” didn’t sit well with Leonard, and reportedly was one of the last straws.
“Even though he didn’t care about social media or media [reports] much or what was said, he still hears or gets word of it,” Green said of Leonard. “So certain things I think it might have ruined some relationships for people who might have spoken out in the media during that time in a negative way.”
The Sixers, meanwhile, have been complimentary of Simmons when addressing the media. Players have said they want Simmons back, are better with him, and support him.