Steve Kerr Says James Wiseman Was Benched vs. Clippers Due to Missed COVID Tests

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2021

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, left, speaks to center James Wiseman (33) before the start of an opening night NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said rookie center James Wiseman was benched for the first half of Thursday's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers because he missed two COVID-19 tests during the NBA's All-Star break.

Wiseman sat out Wednesday's practice but received clearance to play ahead of Thursday's road game in L.A.

"I'm not going to go into detail, but this is all part of development as a young player," Kerr told reporters. "You got to take care of your business. Everything matters. This was just a reaction to him missing the test and not being able to practice last night. That hurt us. And so that was the reason he did not play in the first half. I'm not going to go into any more detail than that because that's private team business, but that was the reason."

Wiseman entered the game at the start of the fourth quarter with the Warriors trailing by 36. He played the entire period, finishing with 14 points and seven rebounds in 12 minutes.

The 19-year-old Tennessee native explained he apologized to Kerr and also reached out to veterans Stephen Curry and Draymond Green after missing the tests.

"I make mistakes," Wiseman said. "I'm human and I completely forgot about the first two days of COVID testing. I tested the last two days. ... I made a huge mistake, but I most definitely will not do that again because I just got to make sure that I just be disciplined in terms of that."

The second overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft has endured an up-and-down debut campaign.

Wiseman has averaged 11.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks across 27 appearances (17 starts). He ranks 54th out of 82 qualified centers in ESPN's Real-Plus Minus.

Kerr said he was happy with how the 7-foot post player performed after the benching and added it would be back to business as usual moving forward.

"He was great," Kerr said. "He responded exactly as I hoped he would. He looked like he was a little angry out there and he really competed, and he played with good energy and that bodes well. So he'll be back out there next game."

Golden State (19-19) is back in action Sunday when it welcomes the NBA-leading Utah Jazz (27-9) to Chase Center.