By all accounts, James Wiseman appears to be the future of the Golden State Warriors. But the thing about futures is that they are defined by uncertainty.
Head Coach Steve Kerr acknowledged as much on Friday, April 16, when he spoke with reporter Nick Friedell as part of a 95.7 The Game broadcast.
Always an interesting conversation with Kerr on a variety of levels — especially this one. https://t.co/Tf07Rbv2va
— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 17, 2021
Friedell asked Kerr whether he and the rest of Warriors management had gleaned enough information from the big man’s abbreviated rookie season to keep Wiseman’s name out of trade talks come summer.
“How many people are truly untouchable in the NBA in terms of a trade? I don’t know,” Kerr responded. “Lebron, Steph and Giannis. That’s about it.”
“Everybody is tradable. Wilt Chamberlain got traded. Kareem got traded. You never know what’s going to happen,” Kerr continued. “Obviously, that’s (General Manager Bob Myers’) job. In this business, you never know how it’s going to play out. But what you value is good young talent, and James is a really, really promising young talent, and we love him on a personal level with his work ethic and his maturity.”
Syncing Wiseman and Curry/Thompson/Green Timelines
Kerr’s comments do not indicate Wiseman is imminently headed to the trading block.
Giving up after just one season on a player the Warriors head coach described as a “generational talent” is the kind of decision that gets NBA decision makers fired, then exiled from the league. But questions about Wiseman’s immediate value versus his long-term value in the context of the Warriors’ remaining championship window are reasonable inquiries.
Curry turned 33 years old just last month. Thompson, who has missed two full seasons with an ACL tear and a torn Achilles tendon, turned 31 in February. Green, too, is 31 years old.
“Questions about timeline with current stars is valid,” Kerr acknowledged. “Can we get James up to speed quick enough to match the timeline of our three core guys? That’s a great question, and we don’t know the answer.”
Injuries May Play Significant Role in Wiseman’s Future With Warriors
Wiseman has now been sidelined for the rest of his debut season with a torn meniscus.
Lower-body injuries to big men in the NBA are always concerning, though a meniscus tear in the right knee of a 20-year-old is a less troubling issue than several other scenarios. Still, health will play a significant role in whether Wiseman can reach his potential and match the front end of his prime with the back end primes of the three future Hall of Famers on the Warriors roster.
Time on the court, both in practice and in games, is also more vital to Wiseman because of his size and skill set than it might be to a guard or a wing player earlier in their careers. Development is key, and Kerr acknowledged Friday that a protracted process lay ahead.
“We didn’t have much of a sense of how raw he would be because we only had three college games of his to look at on tape,” Kerr said. “(You) go into the situation knowing big guys take longer to develop than guards.”
While serious trade talks surrounding the rookie appear unlikely this offseason, the equation could change if Wiseman’s evolution as a player doesn’t progress as quickly as the Warriors would like. Teams hate to give up on potential superstars, but trading a superstar of the future for one in the present isn’t something Warriors fans should rule out as Curry and company, already on the wrong side of 30, continue to age.
In whatever case, Wiseman still has tremendous value — either as a member of the Warriors rotation or as a future trade chip.
“He’s young and he’s got a long career ahead of him,” Kerr said. “However long it takes, he’s going to be well worth the pick.”