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Draymond Green back on the practice floor with Warriors after suspension

By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Draymond Green returned to the practice floor Sunday with the Golden State Warriors, one day after being reinstated by the NBA following a 12-game suspension.

He was also on the bench as the Warriors hosted the Toronto Raptors, involved in the huddles during timeouts.

“It was great, we missed him dearly and we’ll never be the same until he’s in the lineup,” Klay Thompson said after a 133-118 loss. “We are eager for his return on the court and he is obviously the backbone of this team and heart and soul, so I’m looking forward to just playing and be out there with Draymond again. He’ll be a difference maker.”

Coach Steve Kerr wasn’t sure when Green might be ready to play in a game again after the prolonged time away working on himself in the wake of hitting Phoenix center Jusuf Nurkic in the face on Dec. 12.

“He’s here, he looks good, he’s excited to be here,” Kerr said before the game. “We just had our walkthrough, so he took part in the walkthrough. Good to have him back.”

For now, Green will begin his regular shooting routine again and work daily with vice president of player health and performance Rick Celebrini to determine his fitness and readiness for game action. That will include a ramp up of scrimmaging in a similar way the Warriors do with a player coming back from injury.

“We’ll just see,” said Kerr, who doesn’t know how much Green might have played basketball during the absence. “I have no idea when that will be.”

The emotional Warriors forward also had previously served a five-game suspension in November for putting a choke hold on Minnesota big man Rudy Gobert.

The league announced Saturday the end of Green’s indefinite suspension, saying he “demonstrated his commitment to conforming his conduct to standards expected of NBA players” during the penalty that began Dec. 14. Green has met with a counselor as well as had multiple joint meetings with representatives of the league, the Warriors and the National Basketball Players Association.

The 33-year-old Green, a key member of four Warriors championships, was ejected for the 18th time in his career — most among active NBA players — during that 119-116 loss at Phoenix.

Kerr and the Warriors are hoping Green can come back and still be the fiery player that makes him so good but do so without crossing the line and going too far. He brought an energy and lift of the spirits just being back at Chase Center.

“For sure,” Kerr said. “Everybody’s excited to see him, it’s great to have him back. He’s one of our leaders and he’s happy to be back, so it’s a good vibe in there.”

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

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