Draymond Green returning to Warriors with aching finger, heavy heart

Monte Poole

SAN FRANCISCO -- With a heavy heart and bandaged left hand, Draymond Green plans to be available to the Warriors when they face the Utah Jazz Monday night at Chase Center.

Speaking after shootaround Monday morning, Green, who missed the last four games with a sprained left index finger, is listed as "probable" but said he is prepared to return despite discomfort that might linger throughout most of the season.

"It's improved," he said. "It's not all the way, 100 percent, but I'll be waiting until March for a finger to become 100 percent. So, you kind of get it to where you can tolerate it and move forward. It's now at that point -- you kind of mess up your fingers all year, every year -- but it's back at that point of a normal light sprain.

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"Sometimes it's going to get hit. Just keep it moving. But I can tolerate it now. I can dribble. I can catch. Solid."

Green's return comes as the Warriors are exhibiting clear signs of a team in development, with indications of progress while experiencing growing pains that are hard to watch yet impossible to miss. Keen observer that he is, Draymond took note while sitting out.

"These guys have gotten a chance to play a lot of minutes over the last week and a half," he said. "That helps. It gives us something to (build on) and it gives me something to come back to. And that will be an adjustment, too, because some guys are more aggressive than they were.

"It's been a little different style of play, so we're figuring that out as well. But we're definitely better and more aggressive and we seem to be understanding the defensive rotations and we're showing more patience on offense."

Green's desire to play also sends a message to the team's many young players. Some injuries necessitate sitting out, while some aches can be managed.

It was apparent, however, that Draymond was thinking less about himself than about a couple acquaintances, both with associations to his beloved Michigan State.

Charles Rogers, a wide receiver taken No. 2 overall in the 2003 NFL Draft, died at age 38 over the weekend, reportedly after battling cancer and liver disease.

And Cassius Winston, a member of the current Michigan State basketball team, lost his younger brother, Zachary, who was hit by a train over the weekend. Winston played Sunday, no doubt with his brother in mind, delivering 17 points and 11 assists in a 100-47 rout of Binghamton.

[RELATED: Four NBA draft targets if Warriors end up with No. 1 pick]

"For Cassius to play yesterday was huge for him," Green said. "Because it's two hours that you can kind of think about something else. It sucks. My prayers out to the family.

"My prayers also go out to the Rogers family. Charles Rogers was a legend to me. A lot of people look at Chuck and say, ‘Oh, man, he never became what he wanted to become in the NFL.' He from Saginaw, Michigan. He was a No. 2 pick. He a legend. He paved the way for a lot of us guys coming out of Saginaw after him to believe that we could make it.

"Once Chuck did it, we all thought we could do it."

Draymond Green returning to Warriors with aching finger, heavy heart originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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