Andrew Wiggins

Why Kerr believes Warriors wont deal Wiggins before trade deadline

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SAN FRANCISCO – Andrew Wiggins, who loves being a member of the Warriors, can breathe easier. Or so it seems.

Head coach Steve Kerr made it clear Thursday that he anticipates Wiggins, prominently mentioned in trade chatter in recent weeks, will remain a Warrior beyond the Feb. 8 deadline.

"I think he's playing well," Kerr said after practice at Chase Center. "I'm very hopeful, and I expect him to be here when the trade deadline passes. He's been a big part of our team now for years, helped us win a title year and a half ago, still has a lot of career ahead of him."

Wiggins through his first 35 games generally was ineffective on offense, averaging 11.7 points on 41.8 percent shooting from the field, including 29.5 percent beyond the arc – mostly career-low numbers. His defense was well below his ability. Poor play led Kerr to pull Wiggins from the starting lineup in mid-December.

Lately, though, Wiggins has displayed a revivified performance level. His defensive energy is appreciably better, and his offense, once again, is a positive factor. He has scored in double figures in each of the last five games, averaging 18.0 points on 61.1 percent shooting from the field, including 50.0 percent from deep.

Wiggins has started the last seven games, and his vastly improved play will keep him there. It's not a coincidence that his statistics have ticked up over the last five games, as that's precisely how long Draymond Green has been back with the Warriors.

And, suddenly, Jonathan Kuminga and Wiggins, who didn't play well as a duo before Green's return, have been substantially more dynamic and productive.

"Draymond really changed things with his return because he connects those guys at both ends of the floor just with his communication defensively," Kerr said Tuesday night after the win over the Philadelphia 76ers. "And then the way he helps get us organized offensively. Great to see Wiggs and JK both playing so well and playing well together. "

The Warriors, as a result, have shown signs of improvement, notably on defense – another benefit of Draymond's return. They've settled upon a starting lineup – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Wiggins, Kuminga and Green – that plays faster and looks more connected with each passing game.

Wiggins, 28, has made it known that he believes Golden State, top to bottom, is a cut above most NBA franchises. It's where he became a first-time All-Star and a first-time champion.

Yet, as the Warriors were sloshing about with a sub-.500 record and general manager Mike Dunleavy was living with his cellphone in hopes of finding a partner for a trade that made sense; it's easy to see why Wiggins was the likeliest Warrior to be moved.

Stephen Curry is going nowhere, and there has been nothing whatsoever to indicate Draymond Green and Klay Thompson have been on the market. Kuminga is virtually untouchable.

Which leaves Wiggins as someone of real value. He's a tested veteran in his physical prime. He's in the first season of a four-year contract worth $109 million that was considered team-friendly when he signed it in October 2022.

Wiggins surely was aware of his name burning through the rumor mill. Green told him to ignore and play at the level at which he is capable. It can be stressful, which is where the coach can assist.

"We try to recognize if guys are stressed out about it if their names are really being talked about," Kerr said Thursday. "I'm always very, very honest with the players. I've had players over the years who I just share, very frankly, with them there is a chance that you're going to get moved. It may or may not happen, but this is why."

Wiggins has played his way off the bench squad – or, as he referred to it, "the little doghouse" – and back into the starting lineup. At this stage, the Warriors are asking themselves if they can swap him for someone who is a better fit and can be as productive as the current version of Wiggins.

And that person will need time to learn the Warriors' system, how to play with Curry and how to work with Draymond. All things Wiggins already knows. He has played 268 games (including playoffs) with Golden State.

Which is why the Warriors are less inclined to make a major deal that includes Wiggins. That doesn't mean it can't or won't happen. But the circumstances are different now than they were a few weeks ago.

"I'm really hoping Wiggs is here and, as I said, I fully expect him to be here," Kerr reiterated. But I don't know if any player gets to go through his entire career and not see his name in a trade rumor. Steph, probably, early in his career. Right now? Probably not.

"But this is part of the gig. It's not easy, especially on the families, when someone's name is mentioned in trade chatter but part of the deal."

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