Warriors Rumors: Kerr, Organization Torn Over James Wiseman’s Role

James Wiseman

Getty James Wiseman celebrates after a dunk in a game against the Sacramento Kings.

Almost exactly one year later, the Golden State Warriors are facing a nearly identical conundrum over James Wiseman.

The 20-year-old center has been out since last April after suffering a torn meniscus in his knee, one that has now required two surgical procedures and led to a long rehab. Wiseman is growing closer to his return to the Warriors and will be taking the court for the team’s G League affiliate this week, but the exact role he’ll play upon his return appears to be a matter of debate within the organization.

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To Play or Not to Play

As The Athletic’s Anthony Slater noted, head coach Steve Kerr could face a difficult decision on how much to play Wiseman and some internal pressure to move the former No. 2 overall pick back into a significant role.

“This isn’t the simplest of coaching scenarios,” Slater wrote. “The franchise decision-makers — Kerr’s bosses, essentially — are extremely invested in Wiseman. They took him second overall, will pay him $12.1 million next season and have massive roster reconstruction decisions ahead that will require them to know a whole lot more about Wiseman the player than anybody possibly could at this moment.”

But Slater noted that there is also pressure to keep the team on the winning track. The Warriors, despite a slump in recent weeks with Draymond Green and other key players missing, remain a top contender in the Western Conference. Many in the franchise believe that chasing another title is more important than finding time for Wiseman and rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody to develop. This could be especially true of Wiseman, who appeared to struggle last season in the team’s fast-paced offense that calls for big men to screen and react to the ball quickly.

There were reports that Kerr and the Warriors faced similar pressure on Wiseman’s playing time last season, when the team was fighting to stay on the edges of playoff contention. Kerr ultimately committed to keeping Wiseman in the starting lineup to give him more time to develop, though his season would ultimately be cut short by injury.

Wiseman’s Role Could Already Be Set

Kerr and the Warriors coaching staff may have already made a decision regarding Wiseman’s role this season. ESPN’s Kendra Andrews reported that while the second-year center is expected to rejoin the team sometime in the coming days, he will not be part of the regular rotation.

“Still, one Warriors coach told ESPN that it’s highly unlikely that Wiseman will be a big part of the Warriors’ rotation, particularly in the playoffs,” Andrews wrote. “They want to plug him into specific situations but don’t believe he’ll be ready to take on the brunt of the work down low right away. Instead, they want him to get ready to be an integral part of the team next season.”

Wiseman could be even more crunched for playing time with the return of Green, who has been out since January with a back injury. Green said earlier this month that he expects to return to the court on March 14, and is expected to take his spot in the starting lineup.

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