Golden State Warriors

James Wiseman still not cleared to scrimmage, will reportedly return in early ’22

For much of the early NBA season, most league observers figured that guard Klay Thompson and center James Wiseman would return from injury at roughly the same time. After all, the Warriors announced that both players were ready to scrimmage against lower-level ballers more than a month ago.

But expectations have changed since that bit of news from Nov. 1. Though Thompson has been scrimmaging for weeks now, Wiseman has yet to play 5-on-5. Here’s some more info from The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, who shed some light on an issue in Golden State that’s been overlooked thanks to all the winning the team has done thus far.

Here is [coach Steve] Kerr from Charlotte on Nov. 13: “We have players coming into the gym who are going to play with Klay and James. The plan is to put them through some scrimmages and hopefully it goes smoothly and we can ramp it up slowly.”

Thompson did begin scrimmages that week. Wiseman didn’t. Thompson is now entering a fourth week in unconstrained game settings. Wiseman is still waiting for that green light.

Here is Kerr on Nov. 23: “The injury, the meniscus tear, it’s not really a linear improvement like an ACL or an Achilles where you can map it out. A meniscal tear, you can’t really map it out as easily because there’s more possibility for variance in how long it’s going to take. James is doing fine. There’s no structural issue. We’re just being very, very cautious. He’s doing 1-on-1, 2-on-2 stuff, drill work. But [Dr.] Rick [Celebrini] is not yet comfortable having him scrimmage.”

Anthony Slater/The Athletic

This is just part of the moving timeline the Warriors have had when discussing Wiseman’s return. At one point, Kerr even said he’d be ready for training camp.

But as Slater details in his report, a nine-month recovery time is not unusual with a meniscus tear. That would place the date of Wiseman’s potential return in mid-January. It’s not exactly clear why Golden State had some mixed messaging here, but a cautious approach seems right to me, no doubt. They probably should have taken that approach from the start. Wiseman was the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft just a season ago and has the skills to contribute to a championship run as a vital role player.

One more tidbit from Slater’s report: expectations are that Wiseman can be ready for live NBA minutes more quickly than Thompson, once Wiseman is cleared to scrimmage. So he might not be too far behind Captain Klay after all.

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