This was supposed to be the season James Wiseman showed he can be a contributing member to a championship team. So far, it’s going about as poorly as possible.
Just a month into the season, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr announced on Monday night that Wiseman is being sent down to the G League for a while, after a game in which Kerr didn’t feel comfortable enough playing Wiseman until the team was up by 41. After taking the court, the Warriors quickly went minus-12.
That’s been the significant problem for Wiseman, who has had the one of the worst plus/minuses in basketball for much of the season. It’s somewhat astounding that Wiseman has gone from first player off the bench to completely unplayable in just 14 games.
Marcus Thompson of The Athletic told KNBR it’s now a do-or-die situation for Wiseman in Santa Cruz.
“This is a pretty big deal, this is kind of big,” Thompson told Papa & Lund. “This is the No. 2 pick, this is supposed to be the year they jump into the fray and help the champions and he’s going to the G League. And if he doesn’t play well in the G League this could be the end. This is a pretty big deal for a major component of this Warriors kind of history.
“They don’t have Gary Payton II and Otto Porter because of James Wiseman right? The money they didn’t want to spend, they’re spending it already. So this is a huge deal.”
Part of the reason the Warriors didn’t re-sign the likes of Payton and Porter — two key components to last year’s championship team — is that they already had money tied into their young players who they believed were ready to step up. Wiseman is due $9.6 million next year — plus significant tax penalties — and $12.1 million next year after his option was picked up.
That’s not bad for a good player off the bench, but Wiseman isn’t close to that right now.
“I do think they actually need him even if it’s not for the future, he isn’t going to be the future star that replaces Steph, they actually need 12 to 15 minutes from him, would be good. Twelve to 15 minutes of a seven-footer who can rebound, finish a couple of things, set a couple screens, that would be good. I think they’re trying to get him to that, because otherwise they got to use the 15th spot to bring in something like that.
“Looney’s played like 800 straight games. They’re playing 37 minutes of Draymond and Steph together. At some point, they need to be able to not do that. I feel like they’re trying to get Wiseman to the point where he can actually be a role player for them. To me that’s the goal. I don’t know anything about future down the line, he would have to show them something, because remember he was the No. 2 pick.”
Of course there is still hope. Jordan Poole spent time in the G League last year and played so well after being called back up he earned a four-year, $128 million extension. On the other side of that coin, Wiseman could get traded soon if things don’t improve.
“He’s supposed to be the answer after Steph leaves,” Thompson concluded. “That’s the grand plan. That’s why he wasn’t involved in any trade…He’s supposed to be the future cornerstone of the franchise, that may be out. Something would have to happen dramatically for that. Now they just need him to be a really good role player.”
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