As soon as the Golden State Warriors were eliminated from championship contention by the Los Angeles Lakers, reports immediately surfaced of Jonathan Kuminga’s frustrations with his role.
On May 19, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr joined “The TK Show,” hosted by The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami to discuss the 20-year-old’s future with the team. Kerr explained that there is a role for Kuminga next season, but he’s going to have to improve a few aspects of his game to earn more minutes.
“The minutes are there for him to take at the backup four next year,” he told Kawakami. “He’s gotta make strides, and he and I talked about it. The No. 1 thing is he’s gotta rebound. If he rebounds and he runs the floor, there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for him… But he’s entering his third year next year, he’s 20 years old, got a great future ahead. He’s just gotta keep on the same path he’s on. But he’s gotta make those strides, like I said, on the glass and running the floor, diving in pick-and-roll. If he does those things, he’s going to play more, and that’s how you continue to grow and build your game.”
Kerr then opened up on his decision to ween Kuminga out of the rotation during the playoffs.
“I just went with the guys who I thought could impact winning more. It doesn’t mean that we stopped believing in JK by any means. It just means that those were the guys we thought would help us win.”
Jonathan Kuminga Wants Larger Role or Trade from Warriors
Kerr’s interview with Kawakami came just a week after the first reports that Kuminga may try to force a trade from the Warriors. On May 12, The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Anthony Slater wrote that the young forward could look to request a move if he isn’t given a larger role next season.
“The Warriors and Kuminga’s representatives are expected to discuss his future this offseason, league sources say,” Slater and Charania wrote. “Golden State will need to decide whether Kuminga will receive a full-time role moving forward and, if not, league sources say the No. 7 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft will want to be somewhere he can play more.”
Steve Kerr Says Jonathan Kuminga is ‘Excited’ to Come Back to Warriors
Though Golden State’s man in charge went into great detail about Kuminga’s situation when speaking with Kawakami, he first addressed it on the radio.
Kerr joined 95.7 The Game’s “Willard & Dibbs” on May 16 and was prompted about the former No. 7 overall pick’s frustrations.
“I think he’s frustrated that he didn’t play but I would hope anybody in his situation would be frustrated,” Kerr told the hosts on Tuesday. “We had a great conversation with Bob Myers & we’re excited about JK coming back next year. I think he’s excited to be coming back.”
The funny thing is that Kuminga actually did hold a regular role with the Dubs all season. He appeared in 67 regular-season games for Golden State, logging about 20.8 minutes each time. Kuminga averaged 9.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game, while shooting 51.9% from the field and 37.0% from beyond the arc.
Kerr just didn’t see a spot for him to make an impact during the postseason and elected to leave him out of the lineup.