Warriors say they don’t intend to trade James Wiseman, but they said same thing about D’Angelo Russell

Golden State Warriors president and general manager Bob Myers spoke at length with reporters on Monday, and one of the topics he addressed was the plan for rookie James Wiseman, who almost singularly illustrates Golden State’s timeline dilemma. 

On one hand, the Warriors have Stephen Curry, who just won the scoring title and is still clearly capable of being the catalyst of a championship team. Like every organization that has ever been gifted LeBron James, or Kevin Durant, or recently the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo, there’s an implicit obligation to throw the future out the window and play for a title at pretty much all costs when you have a star of that caliber. 

On the other hand, the Warriors are in a position to, perhaps, compete for a title with Klay Thompson returning to the fold next season without compromising their future — namely Wiseman and the Minnesota Timberwolves‘ 2021 first-round pick, which is top-three protected this season (unprotected in 2022) but likely to fall somewhere outside the top five. If the Warriors can keep that pick, and develop Wiseman, they could, in theory, remain elite through the remainder of Curry’s prime while also building a bridge to the next era of contention. 

On Monday, as it pertains to Wiseman, Myers declared the latter route to be Golden State’s preference. 

“We don’t want to trade James Wiseman. I think he’s a tremendous talent,” Myers said. “I think he can be very helpful for us in the future and in the present. We plan on him being on the team.”

Take this with a grain of salt. When the Warriors brought in D’Angelo Russell,  Myers said they weren’t looking to trade him either. Then they traded him. 

There’s a lot of posturing involved here, for obvious reasons. You don’t get top value for an asset you publicly announce isn’t of great value to you. You say you love the guy. He’s the next big thing. It’s going to take a Godfather offer to wrestle him away. It might not be the truth, but perception is reality. 

Also, Wiseman is a tougher call than Russell, who was never going to fill the Warriors’ most glaring holes and was a bad fit with Curry. In theory, Wiseman gives the Warriors the scoring, athletic big man they lack, and at 20 years old with just 42 non-high-school-level games under his belt (39 in the NBA and three in college), there’s no way to really tell what he might become. 

Still, reward doesn’t come without risk. You have to make some tough calls to win championships. Almost no team pulls off the balancing act of chasing titles and building for the future at the same time. If Golden State ends up having to choose a path, it remains entirely plausible that Wiseman and/or Golden State’s two potential 2021 lottery picks (their own, currently slated to be No. 14, and the Minnesota pick) end up somewhere else.  

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