NBA Trade Rumors: The Warriors Are Banking on James Wiseman’s Return as Their De Facto Deadline Acquisition

The Golden State Warriors continue to solidify their status as a top title contender despite Stephen Curry’s recent shooting slump. While some might wonder whether the Dubs will get aggressive ahead of the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline to add an impact piece, Golden State appears confident on its internal pieces.

With a back injury sidelining Draymond Green for at least the next couple of weeks and the Warriors already having limited frontcourt depth, they look like a strong landing spot for someone like Domantas Sabonis. But the Dubs are more content on waiting out James Wiseman as the 2020 No. 2 pick works his way back from a meniscus injury.

The Warriors reportedly won’t pursue center upgrades at the NBA trade deadline

The Warriors could well contend with some of the league’s top centers down the road. Nikola Jokic is playing at an MVP level. Rudy Gobert spearheads the Utah Jazz’s success on both ends. Karl Anthony-Towns and Deandre Ayton patrol the middle for playoff-caliber teams.

The Dubs might feel motivated to add depth ahead of the NBA trade deadline because of all the center talent in the Western Conference and Green’s back injury. But Golden State is good with the guys on the current roster.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic reported that the Warriors have no intentions of acquiring a center in the next couple of weeks. The team’s brass loves what they’ve seen from veteran big Kevon Looney, who has started in all 47 games and adds value as a defensive-minded, switchable center who can hold his own against isolation-heavy players.

Indeed, Looney perfectly suits a Warriors squad that ranks first in defensive rating. However, the insistence on not adding another center makes it clear that Golden State still hopes James Wiseman can return to the fold.

Golden State awaits James Wiseman’s return

Golden State Warriors center James Wiseman smiles before an NBA game against the Memphis Grizzlies
James Wiseman reacts before a game against the Memphis Grizzlies on January 11, 2022 | Justin Ford/Getty Images

James Wiseman’s recovery process is going slower than anticipated. He first suffered a torn meniscus in April 2021, with the Dubs hoping he’d return in a limited fashion in December. But the 20-year-old remains without a specific timetable for return.

Still, the latest whispers regarding Golden State’s plans would indicate that the team feels the youngster could be available in short order.

If healthy, Wiseman brings a different dimension to the center position. He runs the floor in transition and can break defenders down off the dribble. His athleticism and skill level make him a tough cover offensively, especially when he presents himself for catches and can knock down midrange jumpers as a roll man.

Wiseman will need a ramp-up period even when he is officially cleared. But once the young center gets a feel for game speed, much as Klay Thompson had of late before sitting down with knee soreness, he can elevate the Warriors to another level.

How will the Warriors proceed at the deadline?

The Warriors will not go heavy after available centers ahead of the NBA trade deadline. How might Golden State try to bolster its contender status?

General manager Bob Myers said on The Athletic’s “The TK Show” (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area) that the Dubs are not feeling pressed to make a move. The rationale makes perfect sense.

With Green (when healthy) excelling, Looney giving nightly contributions, and bench guys like Nemanja Bjelica and Otto Porter Jr. providing some depth, the Warriors’ frontcourt is getting along just fine.

Jonathan Kuminga is rapidly developing into a key wing piece, particularly on the defensive end. Andrew Wiggins is having one of his finest all-around seasons.

Naturally, the “Splash Brothers” of Curry and Thompson headline the backcourt, while Jordan Poole’s offensive improvements make him a vital fixture in that unit. Gary Payton II’s defensive gifts help set the tone on that end.

The Warriors don’t need much. Perhaps some added bench scoring or two-way wings would provide value. Otherwise, the Dubs are just fine to wait out Wiseman and see whether he is the final piece to the championship puzzle.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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