Kerr defends how the Warriors handled Wiseman before the trade

Any time a team moves past a high draft pick after just a few seasons, questions must be asked about what went wrong. That’s what the Warriors are facing right now regarding former No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman, who was traded to the Detroit Pistons last weekend.

The Warriors had high hopes for the 7-foot-1 center when they drafted him in 2020, believing he could add a dimension to the roster they hadn’t had during his dynastic career: a super-athletic center who could stretch the court.

But Wiseman never quite fit into the offensive scheme that Steve Kerr built around Steph Curry when he arrived in 2014. And then injuries hampered Wiseman’s development, keeping him sidelined for a year and a half.

On Wednesday, around the same time that Wiseman was making his Pistons debut, Kerr joined Damon Bruce and Ray Ratto on 95.7 The Game to answer questions about their former player and why he wasn’t a good fit with the Warriors.

“It basically came down to his inexperience, that’s all, where we are organizationally, trying to win a championship,” Kerr said. “And I know you’ve heard me say that before, but that’s the answer. You’re talking about a guy who has very little basketball experience with all three games in college, and then the number of injuries he’s had over three years. If I’m not mistaken, he’s played maybe 60, 70 games, something like that.”

Wiseman finished his tenure with the Warriors with 60 games played, including 27 starts. That amounted to 1,098 total minutes in a Golden State uniform, 836 of which were during his rookie season.

This season, Wiseman played 262 minutes in 21 games for the Warriors, and by the end of his time in the Bay Area, he had been dropped from Kerr’s rotation, having played just two of his last 21 games with the team.

Coming off an NBA championship win with Wiseman recovering from two knee surgeries, the Warriors are trying to win a fifth title in nine years and there was simply no way to allow the 21-year-old center to play in meaningful games.

“It’s just not enough when you’re talking about competing for a championship, and that’s where the problem came from, and I know [president of basketball operations] beto [Myers] He’s talked about it, I’ve talked about it,” Kerr said. “We love James, we love his talent, we love his character and we still feel that way, and in short, he just didn’t have enough experience to be in a situation with this team with this continuity. Because he couldn’t afford to give him the hint that he needed to make some mistakes and go out there and play.”

When Bruce wondered why Jonathan Kuminga was playing but Wiseman wasn’t, Kerr made it clear that he was dealing with two very unique situations.

“Every player is a different case, so I wouldn’t even answer that question because they’re just implying that James was missing something that JK has,” Kerr said. “That’s not the case. It’s just two completely different sets of circumstances and two different positions. The center position is much more difficult to play than the wing position. There are just a lot of factors at play. And it’s not that easy to just say, ‘Hey, here’s your answer.’ “

The Warriors wanted the Wiseman situation to work, but after nearly three years, it was clear he wouldn’t have a role on the team as Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green tried to cement their legacies with as many championships as possible.

RELATED: Kerr was “all in” on Warriors recruiting Wiseman

Now Wiseman has a fresh start in Detroit, where he was able to play more than 23 minutes against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday. He finished with 11 points and five rebounds, impressing Pistons coach Dwane Casey.

In the wake of an experiment gone wrong, both the Warriors and Wiseman are trying to turn the page. And while fans will always wonder if something could have been handled differently to make things work, Kerr sounds like someone ready to move on and focus on the task at hand.

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