In reviewing Draymond Green's kick, comparable incidents key

The NBA is reviewing Draymond Green's Flagrant 1 foul for kicking Steven Adams in Game 3 of the West finals. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The verdict as to whether Golden State's Draymond Green will be suspended for his kick to the groin of Oklahoma City's Steven Adams during Game 3 of the Western Conference finals on Sunday is expected from the league office later Monday, ESPN.com has learned.

In the following frequently asked questions, assembled in consultation with league sources familiar with the NBA's process in such matters, we pull back the curtain on the ins and outs of how the league plans to arrive at its decision.

Q. What are the first steps the league office takes in situations like this?

League rules dictate that every flagrant foul, whether FF Penalty 1 or FF Penalty 2, is automatically subjected to a next-day review to determine if the flagrant should be rescinded, upgraded or remain as called.

There are typically several components to such reviews. Chief among them, for NBA vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe and his staff, is referring to numerous video replays of the incident -- with more angles available in the playoffs because postseason games attract more cameras -- as well as a series of interviews conducted by the league office.

Among the videos that the league is apt to consult are what are known as "comparables" -- similar incidents in the NBA's recent past to help assess the current situation. One example of a comparable would be the December 2012 incident involving Miami's Dwyane Wade and then-Charlotte guard Ramon Sessions; Wade was suspended one game for "flailing his leg and making contact with" Sessions' groin.

Q: Who will league officials interview in this case?

Conversations with the players involved are not mandatory, according to league rules, when it comes to reviewing flagrant fouls. But league sources say they are a given in this case, especially with Green facing the possibility of suspension.

The league office, under the banner of due process, will want to give Green his say, even though he has already insisted repeatedly in a number of postgame interviews that the kick was unintentional. Both Green and Adams, furthermore, are likely to be asked by NBA security officials what was happening leading up to the incident: Did anything take place between them before Green's kick that might have precipitated it?

Interviews with the referees who worked the game -- Scott Foster, Tony Brothers and Zach Zarba -- are also standard. If necessary, VanDeWeghe could also consult those working in the league's Replay Center on Sunday who assisted with the on-court review that led to Green being assessed a Flagrant 1.

Q: Can the league upgrade the foul without suspending Green?

Yes. Among the potential outcomes of the league's investigation is upgrading Sunday's kick to a Flagrant Foul Penalty 2, even though the officials on the floor stopped short of that.

Yet even if the foul is upgraded to a Flagrant 2, VanDeWeghe can still decide that Green is eligible for Game 4. An automatic ejection for a Flagrant 2 happens during the game, but not necessarily after.

There is recent precedent for such a ruling. Earlier in the season, Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague avoided suspension after a hit on Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Nemanja Bjelica was upgraded from a Flagrant 1 to a Flagrant 2.

Q: Cleveland's Dahntay Jones was just suspended for one game for a strike to the groin of Toronto's Bismack Biyombo. How will that impact the league's decision on Green?

It's not often, on one hand, that a potential precedent-setting decision happens the day before the NBA is confronted with a case like this.

But there is a strong possibility, sources say, that the league office won't see these two incidents as comparable.

Jones is a little-used Cavaliers reserve who appeared to swing at Biyombo with a closed fist -- contact that was interpreted in many quarters as a non-essential player trying to take an objectionable late-game shot under the radar at a Raptors starter.

The circumstances surrounding Green and Adams are clearly different.

Q: Would it have made a difference if Green had been ejected Sunday night?

Realistically, yes.

Had Green exited in the second quarter of what was still a close playoff game, it could be argued that he and the Warriors had already paid a significant price. The reality is that, even though the Warriors were barely competitive after the incident, they did have Green for the rest of the game.

Q: How does intent factor into the league's thinking?

Attempting to measure intent is something the league tries to stay away from, as there's no way to accurately measure it.

No matter how sure we might think we are based on the available evidence, there's no way to truly know what a player was thinking in the moment.

VanDeWeghe and his team will thus inevitably focus on the actual act as much as possible with a number of questions: Was it a basketball play. How severe was the contact? Was it reckless? Did it endanger the other player? Was there a high risk for injury?

Player history is also undeniably a factor -- as seen most recently this season through the multiple sanctions assessed to Memphis' Matt Barnes -- but player safety is at the root of the league's thinking. If Green's kick is deemed to have been a reckless act that jeopardized player safety, it naturally increases the odds of a suspension.

Q: What is the likely timing of the league's ruling?

Sources told ESPN.com on Monday that an announcement from the league office is expected by day's end.

Yet what also often happens in these situations, sources say, is that the team affected -- Green's Warriors in this case -- will have been apprised Monday morning that the league office has begun what could be a lengthy investigation and that a suspension is possible.

While that obviously opens the league up to more behind-the-scenes lobbying from the affected team to merely fine the player, that approach would give the Warriors as much time as possible to prepare for the prospect of playing Game 4 on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City without Green in the event the investigation takes more than one day.

Q: Based on what we've seen otherwise this postseason in terms of suspensions, how worried should the Warriors be about Green getting a one-game ban?

As it awaits official word, Golden State might be able to find a measure of comfort in recent history.

In three high-profile cases in earlier rounds, Detroit's Andre Drummond, Boston's Isaiah Thomas and Oklahoma City's own Kevin Durant all avoided suspension after making contact with the head of an opposing player.

Drummond caught LeBron James with an elbow to the face in Game 3 of the Pistons' first-round series with Cleveland. Thomas' left hand connected with Atlanta's Dennis Schroder in Game 3 of the Celtics' first-round series with Atlanta. And Durant was ejected late in Game 4 of a Thunder win in Dallas in the first round after striking Mavericks rookie Justin Anderson in the head.

But the offending player, in each case, was able to play in his team's next game.

Q: Is the decision to suspend or not suspend VanDeWeghe's call?

Mostly. But not entirely.

VanDeWeghe has the loudest voice in the league's investigation and is tasked with bringing a recommendation to commissioner Adam Silver. Yet it is ultimately up to Silver to sign off on VanDeWeghe's recommendation or, if he chooses, make his own ruling.

Final say in the NBA, as always, belongs to the commissioner.