Saturday, August 6, 2022

Warriors make important decision about Wiseman’s future at the Golden State

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The Golden State Warriors are little more than a month away from winning their fourth NBA title of the Steve Kerr era, but the team is already making important lineup decisions for the start of the next regular season.

Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green’s positions as starters are about as secure as jobs in the Association. Andrew Wiggins cemented himself as the fourth starter after traveling to the All-Star Game for the first time last season and then emerging as arguably the team’s second-best player in its six-game NBA Finals win over the Boston Celtics .

But fifth in the lineup – the center that anchors the Dubs’ central defense and is responsible for offsetting a rebound disadvantage that the Warriors sometimes accept by playing on the smaller side – appeared to be the only starting role it could to win. The two players fighting for it are recently renewed Kevon Looney and former No. 2 overall champion James Wiseman, who is entering his third year in the NBA after sitting out all of last season with injury woes.

The competition is apparently not as heated as it first appeared, however, with Kerr making a final statement about who will start midway nearly three months before the start of the regular season.

“[Looney] will come back as a starter,” Kerr said, per The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. “He deserves that and more. We are all happy that he is back. There was a real fear that we were going to lose him. Getting him back is huge for our team. It’s good for Loon to continue what he did for us last year. He’s really a good mentor [Wiseman].”

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The Dubs secured Looney on a three-year deal totaling $22.5 million per Spotrac. It’s been a solid deal for both sides after Looney has been physically reliable and consistently productive all year.

The big man appeared in every single regular season game in 2022-23, averaging six points, 7.3 rebounds and two assists per contest. His rebound stats were a career high in seven years in the league, while his assists matched his career high in that category, according to Basketball Reference.

Looney was also a crucial member of the Dubs championship run. He was a beast against the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals, averaging 10.6 points and 10.6 rebounds for the series, according to ESPN. He also put on arguably the greatest performance of his career in the final Game 5, scoring 10 points and catching 18 rebounds while dishing out four assists.

Looney also showed up in the Finals against the Celtics, averaging 7.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per night, both increases from his regular season numbers to go along with five points per game.

While Looney and presumably Wiseman will both be around for a few more years, the core Warriors group may only have one run left as a unit.

Curry is under contract for the next four years and will definitely stay with the team. However, both Thompson and Green are up for an extension next summer. Golden State must also make long-term commitment decisions to both Wiggins and Jordan Poole within the same time frame.

Green wants a maximum contract extension, according to The Athletic, while Poole is expected to land a nine-figure deal. Wiggins is already making more than $30 million a season and probably isn’t interested in a massive discount.

Thompson has indicated several times in the past that he wants to end his career with the Warriors. However, after two serious injuries that sidelined him for almost two and a half years, the Dubs’ front office may have to do some hard math on what they can pay the aging guard going forward – depending on how he looks next season.

A few things are certain, though: The Warriors are defending champions, they’ve brought back what Kerr recently dubbed the team’s “founding six,” and they have a slew of young talent led by Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga.

And the final guarantee – Golden State will be backing it up at least one more time in 2022-23.

Thompson has indicated several times in the past that he wants to end his career with the Warriors. However, after two serious injuries that sidelined him for almost two and a half years, the Dubs’ front office may have to do some hard math on what they can pay the aging guard going forward – depending on how he looks next season.

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