After months of slow progress and a setback that pushed his return back even longer than initially expected, James Wiseman is growing ever closer to his return to the Golden State Warriors.
The 20-year-old center progressed to contact practices earlier this month, and a new report from an insider says that it has been going well. Wiseman has not played since tearing a meniscus in his right knee last April, an injury that led to season-ending surgery later that month and a second procedure in December. The long wait for his return could soon be over.
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Wiseman Ramping Up
As Anthony Slater of The Athletic reported, Wiseman continues to ramp up his work since being cleared for his first contact drills in 10 months. After going through some initial scrimmages during the team’s trip to Salt Lake City for a game against the Utah Jazz, Wiseman has been able to progress into even more contact work, Slater reported.
“James Wiseman has done more 3-on-3 contact work in recent days, per Steve Kerr. Just went through a pregame workout. This latest momentum hasn’t slowed,” Slater reported.
The progression is being taken as a positive sign after Wiseman had a difficult time clearing hurdles earlier in his rehab. As ESPN’s Kendra Andrews noted, general manager Bob Myers said there were several times that Wiseman “walked up to the doorstep of contact” but his knee didn’t respond correctly and the rehab team had to take a step back.
Wiseman’s work in recent days has impressed head coach Steve Kerr, who noted that the second-year center was able to jump into practices without a hitch.
“He picked up everything really quickly,” Kerr said last week. “This being James’ second season, he’s got a foundation of knowledge that’s going to be really important for him when he does get back on the floor.”
Warriors Banking on Wiseman’s Return
Ahead of last week’s trade deadline, there had been some speculation that the Warriors could look for a reliable center as something of an insurance policy if Wiseman could not return, or not get back to his previous form in time for the playoffs. The Warriors ultimately ended up passing at the deadline, making no moves and sticking with the current roster.
There could still be some roster movement, as Myers said the team will consider picking up a player in the buyout market if the situation is right. But the Warriors general manager stressed that it would need to be the right fit.
“It’d take something more than so-and-so is available and we might as well,” he said, via The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. “I think we’d be a little bit more kind’ve cautious or focus a little bit more on who we’re adding and why because we have 15 we think can help us.”
There is some speculation that the Warriors could look for some help in the frontcourt. NBC Sports Bay Area‘s Josh Schrock noted that Tristan Thompson looks to be a strong buyout candidate after being traded to the Indiana Pacers this week, and the Warriors could target him if he becomes available.
“While Indiana could use Thompson as a backup center behind Myles Turner, it’s likely the veteran big man asks to be bought out to join a contender,” Schrock noted.
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