James Wiseman’s return to the Warriors was once again halted.
The second year center has swelling in his right knee and has been closed indefinitely. He was scheduled to play his fourth game with the G League’s Santa Cruz on Sunday.
“Yesterday and today, our coaching staff put their heads together with the doctors who worked with James,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “The decision was basically to take a break because of the swelling in the knee. I feel terrible for James.”
Kerr said it was unlikely Weizmann would join the team on his next road trip. No decision has been made as to whether the 21-year-old will be closed for the remainder of the season.
It represented another costly setback in Weizmann’s recovery from knee surgery 11 months ago after suffering a meniscus tear that ended his junior season. In mid-December, he underwent a second arthroscopic surgery to relieve swelling in the same knee.
Before the Saturday news broke, Weizmann appeared to be taking steps in the right direction. He was training and traveling with the team. He was intensifying his quarrels, which opened the door to a rehabilitation assignment from League J. And most recently in three games with Santa Cruz, he averaged 17.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 20.7 minutes a night.
Kerr has called for patience whenever asked about Weizmann’s rehabilitation. But there was a growing sense of urgency on the part of many outside the organization to see the huge youngster fit into the big club as soon as possible.
Golden State’s lack of size – their healthy 6-foot-9 players, Kevon Looney and Nemanja Bellica – and their lack of front-court depth have been a concern all season. Draymond Green’s return certainly helped address some of these issues. But having a healthy 7-foot-1, 240-pound Wiseman in the spin would give the team an extra dimension of height and athletic performance at both ends.
Wiseman was not expected to play a major role in the Warriors’ rotation this season. There’s no telling how long he can play in an NBA game, how quickly he absorbs team concepts or how effective he is after losing so much time.
However, Golden State did not need a high level of production from Wiseman immediately after rehab. They just needed someone who could add depth, play big and reduce the front-court load on Looney and Green in stretches. But with this latest setback, it looks like warriors won’t be enjoying this luxury for quite some time.
The No. 2 pick overall faced quite a bit of adversity early in his career, but his teammates are proud of the way he handled him.
“Knowing how much work he did, how much he wanted to play, pulling the game out of him for the second time after it happened in college, working through that and back on his way, it’s great to see him,” said fellow rookie Moses Moody.
C.J. Holmes covers The Warriors in the San Francisco Chronicle. email:
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