The Golden State Warriors must make an important decision on starting wing Andrew Wiggins, who could face an unusual situation where he is left unable to play half of the games this season.
For one outspoken NBA pundit, it’s not a difficult call for the Warriors.
Due to local restrictions in place in San Francisco, Warriors players who are unvaccinated, like Wiggins, are not able to play in home games. As ESPN reported, Wiggins had asked the league for a religious exemption from taking the COVID-19 vaccine, but his request was denied.
“The NBA has reviewed and denied Andrew Wiggins’ request for religious exemption from the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events,” the league said in a September 24 statement. “Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors home games until he fulfills the city’s vaccination requirements.”
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Warriors Must Move Wiggins
Pundit Stephen A. Smith spoke out about the situation on ESPN’s First Take, saying Wiggins’ stance has left the Warriors with no option but to ship him away.
“They should trade Andrew Wiggins today, period. Get rid of him. Send him someplace else,” Smith said. “This is not a hard situation, not a hard decision for me.”
Smith noted that it would be painful for Golden State to trade someone who scored 18.5 points per game last season, but his unavailability to the Warriors makes that meaningless.
“Andrew Wiggins, right now because of the vaccination mandate in the city of San Francisco, would not be able to play in 41 home games for the Golden State Warriors. What do you need him for, what good is he to you?”
Wiggins Mentioned in Trade Rumors
The versatile winger has been tossed in the trade rumor mill a lot in the past few months. When there were growing rumors that the Warriors could look to package one or both of their lottery picks in exchange for an established NBA star, Wiggins was frequently mentioned as an essential part of the deal to make sure salaries matched up.
One of the most persistent rumors had the Warriors sending Wiggins back to his home country up north. The Warriors were rumored to be interested in Toronto Raptors big man Pascal Siakam, with Wiggins seen as an essential part of the deal, but the trade never came to fruition.
Moving Wiggins may not be easy. Yossi Gozlan of Hoops Hype pegged Wiggins as one of the most difficult players to trade in the league given his contract. Using an analysis based on NBA contract analytics outfit ProFitX, Gozlan wrote that it could be difficult to find a team willing to take on Wiggins.
“Andrew Wiggins has come a long way down this list thanks to his solid contributions to the Warriors,” he wrote. “Despite his improvements, he is still overpaid by a good margin, according to ProFitX. While there could be teams interested in his services, his contract makes him a neutral value at best. Wiggins is Golden State’s logical salary filler in a potential consolidation trade.”
There is still another solution. There are a few more weeks for Wiggins to change his mind on getting the shot, making him eligible to play in time for the start of the season.