There are certain mistakes an NBA rookie cannot make without being stripped of some professionalism points, and Warriors center James Wiseman made one over the All-Star break.
He put himself in the uncomfortable position of having to apologize to his teammates.
Wiseman missed a COVID-19 test and because of that was not allowed to practice with the Warriors on Wednesday in Los Angeles and might not be cleared to play against the Clippers when the teams meet Thursday night at Staples Center.
“It was a mistake,” coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday in a video conference. “He just forgot. It’s disappointing because he could have used the practice tonight. And we needed him out there. So, it’s disappointing that he made the mistake.”
Regular testing has been a part of the league’s protocol since last year. Wiseman has participated in the process since entering the NBA in November. Adhering to the policy is a high priority, essential to the safety measures in place this season during a deadly pandemic.
“We’ve got to test every day, either in the morning or the evening,” Eric Paschall explained. “Two time slots. You’ve got to remember in the morning. And if you don’t in the morning, you’ve got to go at night.”
After adhering to protocol for nearly three months, Wiseman failed to remember at least twice in one day. Though his error is not necessarily deserving of significant punishment, it is too meaningful to write off to youthful indiscretion.
It’s part of being a paid professional, even if Wiseman doesn’t turn 20 until later this month.
“It’s what you have to do,” Steph Curry said. “For a rookie coming in, there’s a lot of things thrown at you in terms of what’s happening on the court. But now, with all the protocol stuff, the accountability over the break, but we all understand this is our job. We have things to do. When you don’t do them, it puts you behind. Hopefully, he won’t be out long.”
Wiseman opened the season as the team’s starting center before moving to a bench role for nine games. He re-entered the starting lineup only last Thursday, in Golden State’s first-half finale at Phoenix.
The Warriors’ first half ended with their first three-game losing streak this season, and it was clear to players and coaches that a number of issues need to be addressed -- beginning with the first practice of the second half.
Draymond Green, who was nursing a slight ankle sprain, was cleared Wednesday and participated in practice, as did Kelly Oubre Jr., who missed the last two games with mild wrist sprain. It was a full team workout, except for Wiseman.
“Every practice we have is crucial, but especially the ones where we can actually get some work in,” Kerr said. “The [first] practice after the All-Star break is always an important one because you’ve got to blow it out. You’ve got to get your legs back underneath you. You also have to get your mind right.
“Tonight was a very important practice. We needed the work.”
As the youngest member of the team, with enough promise to be considered a future cornerstone, Wiseman needs to take advantage of every opportunity to grow.
His mistake, however, was less about missing a practice than about a blunder that pokes a hole in the “mature for a teenager” persona Wiseman had developed. As displeased as the Warriors might be, he likely feels the same way.