NBA

Kerr optimistic about Warriors' future as injured players eye return

By Sports Desk July 19, 2021

It has been a long two years for the Golden State Warriors since falling to the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals, but head coach Steve Kerr is taking an optimistic view of what lies ahead. 

Kerr has been busy this summer as an assistant coach for the US Olympic team, but he told The Athletic in an interview at Team USA's camp last week there are positve developments around Klay Thompson and James Wiseman as the pair return from injuries, leaving him "really excited" to get going again.

Thompson has not played for the Warriors since tearing his ACL in the decisive Game 6 against the Raptors in June 2019, rehabbing from that injury only to tear his Achilles tendon in a pickup game last November. 

The five-time All-Star is not back to full speed yet, but he is getting close. 

"He’s still aways away from actually playing basketball in a 5-on-5 setting," Kerr said. "But there’s a big step with the Achilles when you can actually start running again. It’s a huge psychological boost. The rest of the body gets going, you start feeling the soreness and aches and pains that actually feel good when you’ve been out for a while. He’s at that point."

Wiseman, the second overall pick in last summer's NBA Draft, played in only 39 games as a rookie and saw his season end in mid-April due to a torn meniscus, but Kerr said the 20-year-old is "right on schedule" to be ready for the start of training camp.

Their injuries and other issues made last season a struggle for Golden State despite an MVP-caliber campaign from Stephen Curry, who set career highs with 32 points and 5.5 rebounds per game and willed the Warriors into a shot at the postseason.

After winning seven of their last nine regular-season games to make the play-in tournament, the Warriors dropped both games there and failed to advance, but plenty of positives have emerged heading toward next year -- not least of which is Golden State holding two of the top 14 picks in the upcoming draft. 

"I'm really excited. I feel like we got our mojo back at the end of the year," Kerr said. "The offseason has been productive in terms of Klay now breaking through. He’s on the court, he’s running, he’s feeling really good. I talked to him last week. He’s just in a completely different mindset. The light’s at the end of the tunnel.

"Steph (Curry) and Draymond (Green) are both in a great place after that close to the season, feeling like they are on top of their games.

"Andrew (Wiggins) had a really good season for us. Jordan Poole emerged. Juan (Toscano-Anderson) has turned himself into a rotation player, perfect for our style.

"Now we get a training camp with James, a whole season of development, plus seven and 14 in a deep draft."

Related items

  • NBA denies Warriors star Wiggins' request for vaccination exemption NBA denies Warriors star Wiggins' request for vaccination exemption

    Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins will be unable to play home games until he meets San Francisco's vaccination requirement after the NBA denied his request for an exemption.

    The NBA put out a statement on Friday confirming its decision after Wiggins had sought an exemption for religious reasons to play at the Warriors' Chase Center.

    Under local COVID-19 regulations in San Francisco, Warriors players are required to be vaccinated to play in their home arena, unless an exemption is granted for medical or religious reasons.

    "The NBA has reviewed and denied Andrew Wiggins' request for religious exemption from the San Francisco Department of Public Health's order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events," the league statement said.

    "Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors' home games until he fulfils the city's vaccination requirements."

    Unvaccinated players are permitted to play in the NBA this season with regular testing but there are stricter rules for teams based in San Francisco along with New York.

    The announcement comes shortly after the New York Knicks announced all of their roster are vaccinated. The rules also apply to the star-studded Brooklyn Nets.

    The San Francisco Department of Public Health's decree may have overridden any NBA exemption granted to Wiggins.

    "At large and mega indoor events, all patrons 12 and older must be vaccinated at this time," the San Francisco Department of Public Health statement said.

    "Under the current order, if unvaccinated, they cannot enter indoor areas regardless of the reason they are unvaccinated and cannot test out of this requirement even if they have a medical or religious exemption.

    "This same rule applies to performers and players employed by the host at large and mega indoor events who are covered by the vaccination requirements of the Health Order."

    The Warriors are due to commence their 2021-22 NBA season against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 19. The San Francisco mandate does not take effect until October 13.

    Wiggins played 71 games last NBA season, averaging 18.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

  • San Antonio Spurs announce Ginobili return in front office role San Antonio Spurs announce Ginobili return in front office role

    Four-time NBA champion Manu Ginobili is returning to the San Antonio Spurs in a front office role.

    On Friday, the Spurs announced Ginobili has been named Special Advisor to Basketball Operations, working in player development.

    Ginobili spent 16 years playing with San Antonio, winning four NBA titles in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014 under current head coach Gregg Popovich.

    San Antonio have courted two-time NBA All-Star and 2004 Olympic gold medallist Ginobili since he retired as a player in 2018.

    Ginobili is the Spurs' all-time in three-pointers made (1,495) and steals (1,392), while his career winning percentage of .721 is the best in NBA history with a minimum of 1,000 games.

  • Kawhi Leonard to play for Clippers this season? 'No one knows' – Frank Kawhi Leonard to play for Clippers this season? 'No one knows' – Frank

    The NBA championship-chasing Los Angeles Clippers are unsure when Kawhi Leonard will return from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

    Tyronn Lue's Clippers will head into the 2021-22 season without superstar Leonard, who is expected to miss much of the campaign as he recovers from a partially torn ACL in his right knee.

    Leonard underwent knee surgery after suffering the serious injury during the 2020-21 playoffs – the Clippers progressed to their first Western Conference Finals before falling to the Phoenix Suns.

    Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank fielded questions on two-time NBA champion Leonard on Friday as the team gear up for the new season.

    "Oh, we don't even broach that," Frank said when asked if he expects Leonard to play this season.

    "I think at this point, it's just no one knows when you're dealing with a recovery from an ACL [injury], the time frame.

    "Even just to save you guys [from asking] throughout the year, is no one knows. You just attack it day by day, he has a very detailed plan with a great group and we'll just let his body and the doctors tell us when it's the right time."

    A five-time All-Star, Leonard has averaged 26.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists since joining the Clippers in 2019, arriving at the franchise after an impressive title-winning campaign with the Toronto Raptors.

    The Clippers went 36-16 when Leonard was active in the regular season last term, outscoring their opponents by 9.0 points per outing. In the 20 games he missed, however, their record was 11-9 and they were outscored by 1.1 points on average.

    In the playoffs, the Clippers have lost in the Conference semi-finals and Conference Finals respectively in the past two seasons.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.