To call James Wiseman a disappointment in his first season with the Warriors would be a hefty understatement. After a promising start to the season for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 draft, Wiseman dove headlong into a slump, looked overwhelmed defensively and wound up utterly sapped of confidence before he suffered a meniscus injury in his right knee last month that knocked him out for the rest of the season.
Wiseman showed some promise and only turned 20 at the end of March. He averaged 11.5 points on 51.9% shooting and though he struggled as a 3-point shooter (31.6%), he showed the capability to develop that shot. He also averaged 5.8 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 21.4 minutes.
Warriors center James Wiseman has suffered a meniscus injury in his right knee, sources tell ESPN. No timeline on a return yet.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 11, 2021
Still, as a developing and raw big man, he was not cut out for the Warriors’ win-now outlook, trying to take advantage of Stephen Curry’s MVP-caliber year. Golden State will be in much the same position next season, with Klay Thompson returning and pressure on to be contenders again. That’s led to speculation that the Warriors would seek to trade Wiseman and his future potential for a big guy who can be more competent in the present.
That led one analyst at Bleacher Report to propose an eyebrow-raiser of a trade: Send Wiseman to the rebuilding Rockets for blossoming center Christian Wood.
Wood Never Wanted a Rebuilding Situation
As B/R points out, Wiseman is a much better fit with a rebuilding outfit in Houston than under the pressure of a sought-after return to contender-ship in Golden State. Wood is young, at 25, and putting up exciting numbers: 21.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 51.4% shooting and 37.4% 3-point shooting. He also thought that, in signing with Houston, he would be on a playoff-caliber team starring James Harden.
As the site put it:
The potential for Wiseman is still extremely high, but it’s clear the Warriors and a 33-year-old Stephen Curry can’t wait around for it to materialize. The Rockets can, and pairing him with another 20-year-old with All-Star talent in Kevin Porter Jr. would be a tremendous start in a return to relevancy.
Wood, 25, is ready to help a title contender now, which is what he thought he was originally signing up for with the Rockets.
Christian Wood catches the oop then stares at Boogie 🚀 pic.twitter.com/EOarJbfLuP
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) April 24, 2021
At 16-49, Houston is the worst team in the NBA and figures to remain there for the foreseeable future. The Warriors have fought back to .500, at 33-33, and now sit eighth in the Western Conference, seemingly destined for the play-in tournament.
Details of a Wiseman-Wood Trade Get Complicated
Making a Wood-Wiseman swap happen would not be as simple as trading the players straight up, however. For one thing, Wood will be in the second year of a three-year, $41 million contract next season and Wiseman would still be on his rookie deal, slated to pay him $9.1 million in 2021-22. The Warriors would at least need to add filler salary.
That could potentially be done with Eric Pashcall and Alen Smailagic as salary filler.
Besides that, though, the Rockets would likely want a first-round draft pick, because Wiseman is still such an unknown commodity and Wood is already proven. The Warriors could ship out their own first-rounder this year, which will be in the Top 14, but would prefer to give up their 2022 pick, because they’re expected to be a better team and, thus, have a lower pick.
Either choice could work for the Rockets, who need young assets, while the Warriors need more immediate production. The Warriors are said to be considering moving Wiseman in the offseason and this proposal, while modest compared with some suggested blockbusters, has some merit.