Steve Kerr Credits Warriors Rookie James Wiseman for Changing His Life for the Better

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Coach Steve Kerr speaks to James Wiseman of the Golden State Warriors after he picked up a foul against the Indiana Pacers at Chase Center on Jan. 12, 2021, in San Francisco.

Steve Kerr made progress last season, but work remains when it comes to coaching up James Wiseman. However, a conversation that the pair had during the Golden State Warriors’ season showed that the rookie was able to teach the coach something, too, without even trying.

Wiseman improved Kerr’s quality of life by getting him to follow his own advice.

The James Wiseman speculation has died down

Golden State coach Steve Kerr speaks to Warriors rookie James Wiseman after he picked up his fourth foul in the second period against the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 12, 2021, in San Francisco, | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Golden State coach Steve Kerr speaks to Warriors rookie James Wiseman after he picked up his fourth foul in the second period against the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 12, 2021, in San Francisco, | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Although it remains possible that Golden State could still move him at any time as part of a “win now” mentality, it looks as though Wiseman no longer has to worry about sending his laundry out on Friday and no longer being in town when it comes back on Monday.

Wiseman’s name came up in trade speculation leading up to the 2021 NBA Draft. Part of it had to do with his uneven performance in a debut season marred by injuries. But it was mostly about the Warriors’ front office exploring ways to do more than merely reach the playoffs in 2022 now that the presumed return of Klay Thompson will give Kyrie Irving back his key running partner.

Wiseman, the No. 2 pick in the draft a year ago, was the player the Warriors apparently considered moving to add one more piece to the collection. However, nothing came of the repeated rumors, so the 7-foot lefty can put his mind at ease for a while.

Steve Kerr credits Warriors rookie James Wiseman for changing his life

Just a year removed from high school, Wiseman quickly learned that the life of a pro athlete consists largely of fans-turned-critics screaming, “What have you done for us lately?”

It’s not as though many rookies soared last season, but Wiseman became a target from the early going as NBA fans labeled him a potential bust. Wiseman made the mistake of listening to too much criticism on social media. That came to a halt after a random talk with Kerr, Golden State’s seventh-year head coach.

“We were in a conversation about life in general, and I asked him about social media,” Kerr recalled. “We started talking about it. I said, ‘What you say we take a break, we both take a break for a few weeks. Get off Twitter and anything else you’re on.’ He said, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’

“I’ve been off ever since. And it’s been bliss.”

Wiseman has barely tweeted since March, and Kerr, 55, has ceased all activity since late March.

“Sometimes I feel … I don’t know if responsibility is the right word, but I do feel that it’s good to speak your mind and share articles that you’ve read,” Kerr told NBC Sports. “Have a presence. But I also feel that social media has been really destructive in a lot of ways and divisive in our country.

“I found when I got off of it that it was kind of a relief.”

Later, he added: “Social media has made mistakes unforgivable. It’s a just a terrible way to treat one another.”

So, in the process of helping Wiseman clear the clutter from his own head, Kerr found his moment of social-media clarity.

“I have no plans to go back.”

This fall will be a fresh start at Warriors camp

The downtime of a normal NBA offseason figures to benefit a lot of NBA players, perhaps none more so than Wiseman. His intended one-and-done season at the University of Memphis turned into three games-and-done after an NCAA inquiry.

Next came a pandemic-delayed NBA draft barely a month before the start of the season, leaving Wiseman no time to acclimate to his new teammates and surroundings, a situation complicated by run-ins with the COVID-19 protocols.

Wiseman was averaging 11.8 points and 6.1 rebounds when he lost his starting job in late January and then suffered a wrist injury. He won the starting role back in late March, logging season-high minutes over a nine-game stretch before a knee injury ended his season.

Wiseman underwent surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee in mid-April. The plan beforehand had him missing weeks rather than months, but the surgery turned out to be more complicated. Ideally, he’ll be completely ready to go when training camp opens, at which time Wiseman can resume the learning process.

Whatever the progress, expect the updates to come from the Warriors’ front office and not on social media from the player or his coach.

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