Golden State Warriors rookie James Wiseman was hoping to start the second half of the NBA season strong after a first half marked by injuries and inconsistency. Instead, he may be starting from the sidelines after a mistake over the All-Star break that has him in hot water with the team.
As USA Today’s Rookie Wire noted, Wiseman missed a COVID-19 test over the break that put him in jeopardy for the team’s return to the court on Thursday. The mistake has led to some public criticism of the rookie center and raises questions about his status with the team in both the short and long term.
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Steve Kerr Disappointed in Wiseman
Wiseman’s missed test left him unable to practice on Wednesday and left his status for Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers in question. Head coach Steve Kerr didn’t hide his disappointment in the rookie for the mishap and potentially putting the team in a tight spot coming out of the break.
“James missed a test over the week, so he did not practice,” Kerr said, according to Rookie Wire. “I don’t know what it means for (Thursday). It was a mistake. He just forgot. It’s disappointing because he could have used the practice tonight, and we needed him out there. It’s disappointing that he made the mistake.”
There is a chance that Wiseman can still make it to the floor against the Clippers. Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweeted on Thursday that Wiseman would be available “as long as he continues to test negative,” but it remains to be seen whether the incident could hurt his standing with the team. Kerr said on Wednesday that there would be some changes to the rotation but did not say specifically how Wiseman might be affected.
Season’s Second Half Could Be Critical for Wiseman
Kerr had already hinted that Wiseman would see more minutes in the second half of the season. The rookie center averaged just under 21 minutes per game, scoring 11.8 points and grabbing 5.9 rebounds, and Kerr said that playing time would be key to his further development.
“You saw how fluid and athletic he is,” Kerr said in a post-game press conference after Wiseman’s strong performance in a February 24 win over the Indiana Pacers, his second game back from a wrist injury. “Just by being out on the floor, he impacts the game. He is learning every day and all of these experiences are really good for him.”
The Warriors come out of the All-Star break with a challenging start, facing three of the conference’s top four teams — the Clippers, Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers. It is a stretch that could affect not only the team’s hopes of making the playoffs but also the long-term plans for Wiseman. Reports have indicated that if the Warriors were to trade for a franchise player at the upcoming deadline, Wiseman would be the most likely target for a potential partner, along with the first-round pick that Golden State received from Minnesota as part of last year’s D’Angelo Russell trade.