May 30, 2023

Brighton Journal

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The Warriors motivated to buy Andrew Wiggins time so he could be cleared back

SAN FRANCISCO — Although Andrew Wiggins says he feels “good” and that the Warriors need him back badly, neither situation is irrelevant for the next few days.

What matters is the assessment and opinion of Dr. Rick Celebrini, Golden State’s decision-maker on all matters of physical arrangements.

And Celebrini says Wiggins needs more time to build up the conditioning required to be safe and effective in an NBA game.

“He’s the expert,” coach Steve Kerr said Thursday. “We want to be very careful not to bring him back before he’s ready. Rick’s watching all of that. If this was in the middle of the season, it would be two weeks.

“With qualifying starting next week, we’re trying to ramp it up as quickly as possible – but we have to do it to make sure we do it safely.”

Wiggins, who returned to the team at the weekend after an absence of nearly seven weeks for personal reasons, was able to scrimmage on Wednesday and participate fully in training on Thursday.

Even though Wiggins will travel with the Warriors for the final two road games of the regular season, in Sacramento on Friday and in Portland on Sunday, he will be limited to watching from the bench.

“It was a light day for him to get out of the ruckus (Wednesday) and he’ll get a bit more work in the next few days,” Kerr said. “The performance crew is watching everything. This morning he told me he was feeling good and was on a good path.”

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Time is Wiggins’ greatest professional ally. It’s time to address the feelings over the family matter that have kept the 6-foot-7 forward away from the team, as well as properly prepare his body for what’s to come.

Time, too, is what the Warriors hope will provide Wiggins and themselves.

A sweep of the weekend’s games would ensure Golden State finished sixth in the West, allowing them to avoid the tournament starting next Tuesday. Qualifiers begin April 15th.

“Ideally, if we can finish in the top six, we’ll have a week or so to prepare and there will be hassles during that time,” Kerr said. Wiggs will be involved in that.

“But we have to go earn that. We have to win the next two for that to happen, probably.”

If the Warriors finish outside the top six, Wiggins’ availability early next week couldn’t be more clear than doubt.

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Any additional convenience would be appreciated by the roster veterans. Klay Thompson missed Tuesday’s game against Oklahoma City due to back pain but was able to practice on Thursday and was not included in the injury report. Draymond Green has been playing through a variety of aches, pains, and sprains.

This is far more motivation the team will take on the ground on Friday night and beyond.

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