Since adding three lottery picks in 2020 and 2021, Joe Lacob and the Golden State Warriors have pursued a “two timelines” strategy: They wanted to contend now, but also restock the roster for the future. Now, it looks like one of the timelines may be cut short this week.
.@MontePooleNBCS told @DamonAndRatto the Warriors are looking to potentially package Wiseman & Moody:— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) February 8, 2023
"They're not really playing right now and don't know when they'll be in the rotation...I think they're determined to try to get help up front, we'll see what they end up with."
The strategy worked like a charm last season. While 2020 No. 2 pick James Wiseman missed the whole season after a torn meniscus and multiple knee surgeries, 2021 lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody both contributed to the Warriors’ championship, even in the playoffs.
But this year, the Warriors doubled down on the youth movement. Five veterans left in free agency, and Lacob and Myers replaced them with two veterans (Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green), two rookies picked at No. 28 and No. 44, and an empty roster spot. It’s left the Warriors woefully short on bench depth, and they’ve had to lean heavily on two-way players Anthony Lamb and Ty Jerome.
Ryan Rollins missed the first part of the season with a foot injury, and now he’s out for the year with a Jones fracture. (I won’t try to explain it anatomically, but Kevin Durant missed most of the 2014-15 season when he had one.) Patrick Baldwin Jr. has shot the lights out from deep, but after playing just 11 games in college and two games his senior year of high school, he was always going to be a long-term project.
Those two are safe, and Kuminga is firmly entrenched in the rotation. But because Moody and Wiseman rarely play, and the veteran core isn’t getting any younger, the two youngsters have become expendable. Moody’s turnovers have more than doubled this year, and he’s lost Steve Kerr’s trust. He even got sent to the G League.
Is it early to give up on the 20-year-old Moody? Possibly, but there simply aren’t a lot of years left for Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson to be elite players. Plus, Moody likely has more trade value, based on his lower salary, and that he’s probably shown more in the NBA than Wiseman.
For Wiseman, he likely needs a change of scenery, where he can actually play and escape some of the high expectations of fans and the organization. With the Warriors, he’ll always be the guy they took ahead of All-Star LaMelo Ball.
It doesn’t hurt that the capped-out Warriors would love to escape his $9.6 million salary this year, and especially his $12.1 million next year. He’s also the only non-rotation player who could match the salary for a certain level of veteran.
Could they really give up on Wiseman? The difficult part might simply be the embarrassment on whiffing on the No. 2 pick. But that’s happened to a lot of teams picking second in the draft! Memphis took Stromile Swift AND Hasheem Thabeet. Derrick Williams, Jabari Parker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and the Human Victory Cigar, Darko Milicic. It’s not impossible to imagine Wiseman having a solid career. But it’s become very difficult to imagine that happening in San Francisco.
Overall, it’s still unlikely that the Warriors make a deadline move - they rarely do. But it’s very significant that at least two of their young players are apparently no longer untouchable.