Young Star Issues Warriors ‘Play Me or Trade Me’ Ultimatum

Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors.

Getty Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors.

The Golden State Warriors face some tough decisions this offseason, which will inevitably result in significant changes to the roster.

Draymond Green has a player option for next season, while Klay Thompson becomes extension eligible this summer with one year remaining on his deal. Jordan Poole is a trade candidate given his looming salary bump, and his playoff struggles make him one of the team’s likeliest salary cap casualties. But one decision that could impact the long-term future of the franchise more than any other is what Golden State decides to do about 20-year-old Jonathan Kuminga.

The Dubs used the No. 7 overall pick in the NBA Draft two seasons ago to select Kuminga, who the team billed as part of a young quartet of players that would represent the next era of Warriors’ basketball. Then former No. 2 pick James Wiseman failed to develop and landed on the trade block, where Poole may soon find himself as well. Meanwhile, Golden State bumped Kuminga from the playoff rotation, after which he wasn’t shy about expressing his frustrations.

All of this has led to something of an ultimatum from Kuminga’s camp to Warriors brass that boils down to ‘play me or trade me.’ Anthony Slater and Shams Charania of The Athletic broke down the situation after the Los Angeles Lakers eliminated the Warriors from the playoffs on Friday night, May 12.

“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.”

Jonathan Kuminga Doesn’t Fit With Warriors’ Top Lineups

Jonathan Kuminga of the Golden State Warriors.

GettyJonathan Kuminga of the Golden State Warriors was frustrated by a diminished role with the team during the 2023 NBA Playoffs.

The Dubs’ decision to bench Kuminga was less about his talent level and more about his fit with the personnel playing in front of him, which Slater and Charania explained.

Kuminga had an encouraging second season, emerging into the type of individual defender and slashing wing who should carve out a long career in the NBA. He was great down the stretch of the regular season, helping the Warriors get into the playoffs while Andrew Wiggins was away from the team for a couple months.

But Wiggins returned, [Gary Payton II] entered the lineup and Kuminga was pulled from the playoff rotation, generating frustration for a young player trying to get his career off the ground and a front office that doesn’t view him as a failed draft pick. … It’s been difficult to fit him into lineup combinations with both Green and Kevon Looney – two non-shooters – and that frontcourt logjam ahead of him is expected to remain in place.

Jonathan Kuminga Among Top Trade Candidates on Warriors’ Roster

Jonathan Kuminga of the Golden State Warriors.

GettyJonathan Kuminga of the Golden State Warriors could be on his way out of the Bay Area this offseason.

Kuminga should carry significant trade value given his age and upward potential, should the Warriors decide to move on.

A versatile defender, Kuminga averaged just shy of 10 points and 3.5 rebounds in 20.8 minutes across 67 games last season, which included 16 starts, per Basketball Reference. As Slater and Charania pointed out, the hybrid forward put up 13.2 points in a little more than 24 minutes per game across 21 outings following the NBA All-Star break.

The Charlotte Hornets are one of several teams that has been mentioned as a possible trade destination for Kuminga this offseason.

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