James Wiseman still on track for summer league debut after 5-on-5

SAN FRANCISCO — Moses Moody’s 2022 California Classic debut was set to steal the show Sunday night at Chase Center for the Warriors’ summer league showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers. Behind closed doors, there was a development just as important taking place earlier in the day.

Some Warriors summer league players, and even coaches, started shuffling in late before tipoff on their home court. Why? James Wiseman and a handful of others were going through a 5-on-5 scrimmage, which served as a bit of a warmup for some players.

“James was able to do that, looked really good,” Warriors California Classic coach Seth Cooper said to reporters. “For James, that was a pretty live day. I was on the court for some of that, but everything I heard was that that went really well and he looked really good.”

Sunday marked the first time that Wiseman played a true 5-on-5 game up and down the court in this Ramping Up 2.0.

Wiseman still won’t play in the Warriors’ final California Classic game Tuesday, but his latest positive step continues to have him on track to play in the Las Vegas Summer League, which would be his summer league debut despite him going into Year 3.

“Yeah, I think that’s the plan,” Cooper said. “I haven’t heard anything one way or the other, but I know today was a good step and that he looked really good playing.”

Whether that’s at the start, middle or end of the Warriors’ time in Las Vegas still is to be determined. The Warriors will leave for Las Vegas following their final California Classic game on Tuesday, and their first game in Las Vegas is Friday night. Patrick Baldwin Jr., the Warriors’ top pick in last month’s draft, went through shooting drills Sunday and still could play in Vegas, too. The same goes with Jonathan Kuminga, who is scheduled to meet his teammates in Vegas.

A smiley Wiseman was full of good spirits last Wednesday when he met with reporters. And why wouldn’t he be?

After missing his entire second season in the NBA, the 21-year-old is on track to soon be back in game action and show why he was the No. 2 pick in the draft two years ago.

“Today felt great,” Wiseman said on June 29. “I feel good out there with the guys and just everything about it. I’m speechless. I feel good just playing again.”

Wiseman last played in an NBA game on April 10, 2021, when his rookie season ended abruptly to a torn meniscus. Complications delayed his return this past season, and after playing three G League games, the Warriors held Wiseman out for the rest of the season as he dealt with knee swelling.

They re-signed center Kevon Looney to a three-year, $25.5 million contract in free agency this offseason. The Athletic’s Anthony Slater also reported Looney’s third year on his contract is only a partial guarantee of $3 million. Wiseman is seen as the future of the position for the Warriors if he can stay healthy. The two also have much different skill sets and can complement each other.

The sooner, the better.

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It’s no secret that this is a big summer for Wiseman. The Warriors must decide by Oct. 31 to pick up his $12.1 million team option for the 2023-24 season. If not, the big man becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2023. Golden State has invested too much to move on from Wiseman that quick, and a lot would have to continue to go wrong for the team to get to that point.

He needs luck to go his way right now. Sunday was another reason for Wiseman and the Warriors to smile.

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