SAN FRANCISCO – After languishing on the bench in back-to-back games, James Wiseman’s immediate future with the Warriors is as gray as the skies over the Bay Area on Sunday.
The same might be said of his mind.
Realizing this, coach Steve Kerr pulled Wiseman aside for a chat before the team’s afternoon ride to the airport for a flight to Oklahoma City.
“I did, just because it’s hard as a young player to have to go through this,” Kerr said after practice. “And you need reps. And you haven’t been through the league for a long time, and you don’t always understand what’s happening.”
Getting “reps,” shorthand for repetition, was the rationale for sending Wiseman to the G League Santa Cruz Warriors in November and again in December. He returned to Golden State on Dec. 16 and appeared in seven NBA games before spraining his left ankle during a 3-of-3 drill on Dec. 30.
Wiseman was cleared to play last Wednesday but did not appear against the Memphis Grizzlies that night or against the Toronto Raptors on Friday night. Meanwhile, in between those two games, the Warriors sent three other young players – Patrick Baldwin Jr., Moses Moody, and Ryan Rollins – to Santa Cruz to get reps.
Wiseman, who needs reps, got none on either level. The 7-foot-1 center got a courtside view of Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, and JaMychal Green accounting for the minutes at center.
“One of the things I told James is that in this league things change quickly,” Kerr said. “You just don’t know. I reminded him that JK had some DNPs early this season. It’s tough. But things can change quickly, and you always have to stay ready.
“I would love to get him out there, but right now, JaMychal is playing really well. Obviously, we’ve gone to a smaller lineup, so that Loon and Draymond are not playing together as much. It creates a little bit of a logjam at that position. James just has to stay ready.”
Wiseman, 21, has played in 19 NBA games this season and a total of 58 in his oft-interrupted career. He has played 10 games this season in the G League.
As of Sunday afternoon, Wiseman had no idea when – or where – he might appear in an actual game.
“I try to explain things to all my players as I made decisions on playing time and rotations,” Kerr said. “But especially the young guys because they don’t see it. They haven’t experienced it before.”
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Kerr said “it’s a possibility” that Wiseman could make another trip to the G League but that a final decision in pending.
Wiseman is uncertain about his future. Whether it’s with Golden State or Santa Cruz. Whether it’s with this franchise or another. Whether he will play Monday in Oklahoma City, Wednesday at Minnesota, or Thursday at Denver.
Forgive him if his mind occasionally drifts into the fog.