Golden State Warriors big man James Wiseman is moving closer to a return to action. On Monday, the team announced that he has been cleared to return to full practice with the team. When he’ll be able to play in games again remains to be seen, however, and the team did not give a definitive timeline.
On April 10 last season, Wiseman tried to go up for a poster dunk on Christian Wood of the Houston Rockets. Wood met him at the rim for a spectacular block, and the force from the collision caused Wiseman to land awkwardly. He suffered a torn right meniscus in the fall, which required surgery and has kept him on the sidelines ever since.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Wiseman had a frustrating rookie season. In addition to the knee injury, he missed nearly a month with a wrist injury. He was also in and out of the rotation at various points as the Warriors tried to balance his development with their desire to make the playoffs — something they ultimately missed out on when they were eliminated in the play-in tournament.
In all, Wiseman played 39 games, averaging 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds, while shooting 51.9 percent from the field. Though clearly a talented player, Wiseman is going to need some time to find his place in the league. Between his eligibility issues in college and the recent injuries, he’s played just 42 competitive basketball games since leaving high school. That’s simply not enough for a young player looking to improve his game.
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Wiseman being so early in his development, combined with the Warriors’ rapidly shrinking title window around Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, has many wondering if Wiseman’s future lies outside of the Bay Area. If the Warriors do look to make a trade, he’s one of their most intriguing young players. To this point, though, everyone inside the organization has been insistent that he’s a part of their plans.
“Very unlikely,” Warriors owner Joe Lacob said on on a podcast with The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami earlier this summer when asked about the possibility of Wiseman being traded. “It would take a lot to make me and Bob [Myers] think about doing anything like that. People who talk like that — they don’t understand the cap [and] they don’t understand the economics of the NBA.”
“We need young players under good contracts to intersperse with what is already the highest payroll in the history of the NBA,” Lacob continued. “You just can’t keep adding the luxury tax [and] the repeater [tax]. It’s not possible. It’s just not possible … we have to sort of try to bridge a gap between now and the future.”
You can understand the Warriors’ desire to add young players to this core, but whether Wiseman is the right piece remains to be seen. We should learn more when he’s ready to take the floor again, which should be sometime in the near future.