The story is far from written for former Golden State Warriors center James Wiseman. Still just 22 years old, and with a mere 84 games of NBA action under his belt, Wiseman has way more basketball ahead of him than behind him.
But Monday’s news still is not what anyone expected when the Dubs used the second overall pick on the seven-footer in the 2020 NBA Draft: the Detroit Pistons have not reached a rookie extension with the big man. Monday is the deadline for players on the final year of their rookie-scale contract — which is most of the 2020 first-rounders — to sign an extension. Wiseman is still under contract for the 2023-24 season, as the Warriors picked up his fourth-year option this time last year. As a result, he’ll spend the year on the Pistons and get paid $12.1 million, before entering restricted free agency next summer.
He is one of six lottery picks from the 2020 Draft who will enter the final year of their rookie contract without an extension, joining the Chicago Bulls Patrick Williams (No. 4), the Cleveland Cavaliers Isaac Okoro (No. 5), his teammate Killian Hayes (No. 7), the Indiana Pacers Obi Toppin (No. 8 by the New York Knicks), and the New Orleans Pelicans Kira Lewis Jr. (No. 13).
Wiseman not signing a rookie extension is certainly a sign of how much things have gone downhill for him since draft day, as he’s struggled with performance, injuries, and playing time. But it doesn’t mean that the Pistons are giving up on him; as the Warriors and Klay Thompson are currently demonstrating, sometimes it just makes more sense to wait until free agency. The Pistons surely want a full season of evaluating both his on-court play and his health before determining their investment in the southpaw center.
The Pistons acquired Wiseman from the Warriors last year in a trade that saw the Dubs reunite with Gary Payton II, who came over from the Portland Trail Blazers. Detroit was openly high on the lottery pick, but now he finds himself on the outside looking in on the Pistons depth chart. Detroit looks poised to start a two-big lineup of Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren, and preseason minutes suggest that Marvin Bagley III is likely ahead of Wiseman in the eyes of new coach Monty Williams. When healthy, Isaiah Livers presumably is, too.
Only time will tell what will happen with Wiseman. He’s dripping in talent, so it’s not at all out of the question that he might go on to have a fantastic career. But if it wasn’t evident in February, it’s certainly evident now: the trade Golden State made, which not only brought in Payton but saved the team tens of millions of dollars in tax payments, was the right move to make.