With the Warriors set to open training camp next week ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season, they have a bit of a conundrum on their hands.
Forward Andrew Wiggins told reporters in March that he had no plans to get the COVID-19 vaccine unless he was forced to, and Wednesday, The San Francisco Chronicle's Rusty Simmons reported, citing NBA sources, that the Warriors are growing increasingly concerned about the early-season availability of the 26-year-old because he remains unvaccinated.
Wiggins' decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is an issue for the Warriors because the city of San Francisco instituted on Aug. 20 that anyone, 12 and older, entering a bar, restaurant, club, gym, large indoor event or any other business serving food or drinks indoors must show proof of vaccination.
If Wiggins holds firm in his decision not to get the vaccine, he could be forced to miss all Warriors home games at Chase Center this season.
So what should the Warriors do with Wiggins? ESPN's Stephen A. Smith knows exactly how he would handle the situation if he was in charge in Golden State.
"They should trade Andrew Wiggins today," Stephen A. told Molly Qerim on "First Take" on Thursday. "Period. Get rid of him. Send him someplace else. This is not a hard situation. This is not a hard decision for me. I understand he's averaging 18 points a game from last season. He's no scrub. He can play even though he's the quietest 18 points per game scorer I've ever seen. That's just how I feel about him. I'm not saying he can't play. I'm saying he's not assertive when he needs to be, and as a result, that's why I don't think that great of him, even though I know he can play.
"But this situation with the vaccine really has me vexed in this regard, and I think it's important to point out. Andrew Wiggins, right now because of the vaccination mandate in the city of San Francisco, would not be able to play in 41 home games for the Golden State Warriors. Then what do you need him for? What good is he to you?"
San Francisco, along with New York City, implemented vaccine mandates for indoor businesses, and that also could have an effect on the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks.
"Golden State Warriors are about to compete for a championship," Stephen A. said. "Klay Thompson is coming back. Steph Curry is there. OK? And by the way, once upon a time, I was pushing [to] trade Wiggins, along with another player and two first-round picks or whatever to go and get yourself Ben Simmons. But they don't believe Ben Simmons and Draymond Green mesh.
"But my issue with the vaccination, I will repeat what I said the other day, I'm not going after athletes or anybody else. But in the NBA, you've got the coaches, you've got the medical staff, NBA personnel, everybody has to be vaccinated. The only people that don't have to be is the players. Makes no sense to me. I know they can't do it because you got to negotiate that with the Players' Association. But in all, it's still a bad situation."
The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Thursday, citing sources, that 90 percent of NBA players currently are fully vaccinated.
With most teams having set their rosters for the upcoming season and used up most of their salary cap space, trading Wiggins now likely would be complicated. He is owed just over $31.5 million this season and just over $33.6 million for the 2022-23 season, so team president Bob Myers would have to find a team with matching salaries to send back to the Warriors.
Wiggins was in trade rumors all summer, speculated as the matching salary in any blockbuster trade the Warriors made. But Golden State appears ready to head into the season with the roster as currently constructed.
It's unclear how this situation will conclude, but the Warriors and Wiggins have a few weeks left before the start of the season on Oct. 19 to come to a resolution.