Golden State Warriors center James Wiseman is determined to make the most of his surprising demotion.
Coming into this season, the Warriors had designs for Wiseman to take on an important role after losing close to a season-and-a-half to a knee injury, but it hasn’t gone according to plan. He struggled through the first few weeks of the season and fell out of the rotation, with the Warriors ultimately deciding to send him to the G League Santa Cruz Warriors for more seasoning.
Wiseman appears to have taken the move in stride, saying this week that he felt the “urgency” to get back to form and return to the NBA.
Wiseman Speaks Out on Demotion
As the San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau noted, Wiseman has maintained a positive attitude about what would otherwise be seen as a major career setback. The former No. 2 overall pick said he is eager to get more playing time in Santa Cruz so he can find his rhythm again.
“There’s urgency,” Wiseman said. “I just came back from a rehab. Really, I’m just trying to get back on the court and just get my rhythm again.”
Wiseman kept his good attitude through the team’s season-opener, Letourneau noted. The 21-year-old center scored team-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting with 11 rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot in 25 minutes, while also playing a supportive role to his new teammates.
“If he’s annoyed by his career’s lack of progress, he didn’t make that obvious as he encouraged teammates, rolled hard off screens and told reporters the right things,” Letourneau wrote. “Few could blame Wiseman, though, for being frustrated. For two years, we have heard about his upside, only for a slew of setbacks to make it hard — if not impossible — for him to realize it.”
Wiseman admitted that he needs to stop focusing too much on mistakes and let the game come to him.
“If I make a mistake, I kind of get down on myself,” Wiseman said. “But that’s not going to help me. I’ve just got to make sure I use my professionalism.”
Wiseman’s Future Uncertain
While his unplanned detour to the G League may be off to a good start, insiders are still unsure what the future might hold for Wiseman. Letourneau suggested that the team could look to trade him, recouping at least some of their investment and easing some of their luxury tax burden going forward.
Aside from the financial implications, the Warriors could decide that Wiseman’s need for further development could hold back their more immediate goal of winning another title. Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report suggested that the Warriors could explore a trade for Indiana Pacers big man Myles Turner, with Wiseman as one of the main pieces.
“With the Pacers engineering their own rebuild, Turner is a prime trade candidate, and Wiseman figures to be someone who should interest Indiana,” Buckley wrote.
There would be more work needed for the Warriors to pull off such at trade, Buckley added, meaning they part with either Jonathan Kuminga or Donte DiVincenzo as well as a player on a minimum contract.
But Wiseman could also use his time in the G League to work on his game and return, following in the footsteps of teammate Jordan Poole who used a G League stint in the 2020-21 season to launch a breakout season.