The Golden State Warriors enter Friday’s matchup with the New York Knicks with a 6-9 record. A disappointing start for the defending champions, to put it mildly.
The starting lineup isn’t to blame. Stephen Curry is playing arguably the best basketball of his career. He, along with Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins and Kevon Looney, are holding the team up. The Warriors' starting lineup has a plus-21.1 net rating (per Cleaning the Glass), the second-best five-man unit with over 200 possessions played.
So what gives?
Golden State’s two-timeline plan is getting in the way of its most important timeline: to contend for as long as Curry is in a Warriors jersey. The Warriors have five players aged 21 or under, and, counting two-ways, seven of their 16 players are under 25. They can’t win this year with so many young players still learning their way. The front office must consider trading the prized youth for veteran, win-now players.
James Wiseman, specifically, has become a pivot point. Already in year three, the 2020 No. 2 pick was assigned to the G League this week, showing that the coaching staff doesn't think he can play at an NBA level yet.
Wiseman, who is making $9.6 million this season with $12.1 million owed next season, presents the team with its best trade chip to acquire a veteran who can help the team compete.
Here are five trades that could involve moving Wiseman.
San Antonio Spurs
Trade proposal: Wiseman and Patrick Baldwin Jr. for San Antonio Spurs C Jakob Poeltl
Poeltl, 27, is in the last year of his three-year, $26.3 million contract ($9.4 million in 2022-23) and excelling as the Spurs' anchor.
Averaging 13.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, Poeltl plays a game similar to that of former Warrior Andrew Bogut. That’s exactly what the Warriors need—a defensive anchor capable of both initiating the offense and finishing plays inside.
While the Warriors have Kevon Looney and can always go small with Draymond Green, they lack other reliable frontcourt options. Adding a viable veteran like Poeltl could stabilize a second unit that bleeds leads and could make life easier for Jonathan Kuminga, whom the Warriors envision as a slashing two-way wing with the second unit.
Because Wiseman’s value is at an all-time low, the Warriors would need to sweeten the trade with 2022 first-round pick Baldwin. The Spurs might find this intriguing because they are rebuilding and the Warriors would be offering two talented players under 22 to develop. The move would mitigate the risk of losing Poeltl, who will be a 2023 unrestricted free agent.