Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

Ask Kerith: When will Wiseman return from knee injury? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

I put out a call for mailbag questions the morning before the Warriors started their back-to-back against the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls

I figured I’d fold in the latest stats from the back-to-back and the mailbag would be pretty straightforward.

A lot can change with new information! The most popular mailbag question was about James Wiseman: When is he going to return? About an hour before the Bucks game tipped off, sources confirmed to Warriors Insider Monte Poole that Wiseman needed a second knee surgery, which occurred in December. 

Wiseman’s return is delayed. It’s been about nine months since Wiseman’s first surgery to repair meniscus damage in his right knee. He’s participating in practices, but has yet to be cleared for contact. 

Some of the questions also came with a sense of dread after the Warriors lost 4 out of 5 games before dismantling the Bulls on Friday night.

Steve Kerr said he was hoping Wiseman would be cleared for contact once the Warriors got home from their road trip. Being cleared for contact means a player can scrimmage, and scrimmaging is the final step before returning to games. 

Monte Poole reports the Warriors hope Wiseman will be back “sometime in February.” Whether that’s before the All-Star Break or after is unclear. 

Wiseman is on the road trip. Getting him reacclimated with his teammates and the systems they run are positive signs he’s nearing return. 

Once he returns, my feeling is he comes off the bench at first. If he executes well on both sides of the ball, I think he’ll start by the end of the season. Playoffs could be situational. 

Several fans wondered about trades with the team slumping before the Bulls game. 

The struggle fits within the normal ebbs and flows of a season. I doubt the Warriors would trade for a shooter when they have Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Jordan Poole plus additional help from at least four other players. 

Size is an issue. The Warriors planned for Wiseman to be the help for Kevon Looney and Draymond Green this season, a true seven-footer to contend with the league’s bigs. Wiseman is not available yet.

Bob Myers has not seen his full team in action. Klay just came back. With Wiseman, they’ve only gotten 39 games from their No. 2 pick due to injuries. They don’t know his game yet, only the idea of what it could be. 

Would Myers listen to a trade offer? Yes. That’s good business. 

But the front office has shown it has patience. We have not seen one game this season with Steph, Klay, and Draymond on the floor together. The team will ride out an adjustment period before making changes.

How quickly everyone adjusts and whether the need for a trade becomes urgent is TBD. My read is nothing major happens before the trade deadline, and probably not at all. 

RELATED: Steph: Kuminga’s role in Warriors’ title chase will ‘show itself

I think it raises an eyebrow, but the reasons are known. The team hasn’t been in a place of stability with the same five starters every night. Coronavirus, injuries, and rotational changes have impacted who is around Steph during games. He’s shooting through double teams and lots of physical attention. He also deserves the occasional human blip of an off-night. 

True, it raises both eyebrows when Steph misses several wide-open shots in a game. 

But know Steph is healthy and fit. His conditioning is top-notch. His shot is the best in the game. Maybe he’s riding some mental waves, but he’ll be fine. 

I wouldn’t say “messing up” the rotation, rather a neutral “impacting the rotation.”

Everyone knew this was coming, and you’re right, a guard-heavy situation puts certain guys further down the bench.

There are changes all around Poole and his game will show it. Like the rest of his teammates, Poole reacted well in the Bulls game and got a ton of shots (8-19 from the field, 5-9 from 3-point range) to finish with 22 points in a starting role for Klay. 

In the pecking order, Klay comes first. He’s the starter. Then Poole. That won’t change, even if Klay slumps. It would screw with Klay’s head to be demoted in a season where a comeback after 941 days is already emotional. So everyone else adjusts. 

This is where maturity and sacrifice come in. If anyone has cranky feelings about less playing time, those feelings tend to be smoothed over by wins and championship aspirations. 

I’ll answer the first question. He’ll become a force. 

In Chicago, Kuminga scored 25 points in 26 minutes on 10-12 shooting. Showing these flashes as a rookie in January is an extremely good sign about his future. 

It’s not just his ability as a scorer, but he’s attentive on defense. He runs the floor. He passes well. 

The plan for Kuminga was playing him occasionally so he stays engaged while having the luxury of not needing him for heavy minutes on a deep team. Kuminga is showing that he deserves minutes. Once a player consistently demonstrates he makes the team better when he’s on the floor, the cautious leash comes off.

Refresh the team store website soon…I checked with a Warriors source with the jersey info, and that person said Gary Payton II gear should be available before the All-Star Break!

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