Warriors motivated to buy time for Wiggins until cleared


SAN FRANCISCO – Though Andrew Wiggins says he feels “good” and the Warriors’ need for his return is acute, neither status is relevant for the next few days.

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

And Celebrini is saying 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 that we don’t bring him back before he’s ready. Rick is monitoring all of that. If this were the middle of the season, this would be a couple weeks.

“With the playoffs starting next week, we’re trying to ramp him up as quickly as possible – but we have to do that making sure we do that safely.”

Wiggins, who returned to the team over the weekend after a nearly seven-week absence for personal reasons, was able to scrimmage on Wednesday and fully participate in practice Thursday.

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

“Today was a light day for him coming off the scrimmage (Wednesday) and he’ll be getting more work in the next few days,” Kerr said. “The performance staff is monitoring everything. He told me this morning that he’s feeling pretty good and is on a good track.”

Time is Wiggins’ greatest professional ally. Time to process emotions related to the family matter that kept the 6-foot-7 forward away from the team, as well as properly prepare his body for what is to come.

Time also is what the Warriors hope to provide Wiggins and themselves.

Sweeping the weekend games would assure Golden State a top-six finish in the Western Conference, allowing them to avoid the play-in tournament that begins next Tuesday. The playoffs begin on April 15.

“Ideally, if we could finish in the top six, we’d have a week or so to prepare and there would be scrimmaging going on during that time,” Kerr said. “Wiggs would be involved in that.

“But we’ve got to go earn that. We’ve got to win these next two in order for that to happen, more than likely.”

If the Warriors should finish outside the top six, Wiggins’ availability early next week would be no clearer than questionable.

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Any extra rest would be appreciated by the veterans on the roster. Klay Thompson missed the game Tuesday against Oklahoma City with back soreness but was able to practice Thursday and is not listed on the injury report. Draymond Green has been playing through a variety of aches and pains and sprains.

Just that much more incentive the team will take onto the floor Friday night and beyond.

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