Warriors eye returns of Klay Thompson, James Wiseman as they hit the road

SAN FRANCISCO — The Warriors hit the road for the next week, but two players will stay behind with the hope that one of, if not both, James Wiseman and Klay Thompson’s returns could be on the horizon when they come home from a four-game East Coast swing.

There is still no official timetable for either player, but both have advanced to playing three-on-three or four-on-four, one of the final steps before returning to full participation in practice. They’ll spend the week ahead rehabbing at the Warriors facility rather than accompanying the team on the road.

“You just hope to ramp it up from there,” coach Steve Kerr said this week. “That would be the idea: ramping things up while we’re on the road.”

Kerr and the training staff developed a plan for how to use the next week for both players but declined to share any further details Friday before the finale of their homestand against the Chicago Bulls.

The Warriors’ G League affiliate has an overlapping road trip, which could complicate potential in-house competition for Thompson and Wiseman but Kerr was confident it wouldn’t be a problem.

“We have the resources to be able to put them through the work,” Kerr said. “We have additional people who can come in and play as well locally. We’ll be creative.”

Thompson, the star shooting guard who has missed the past two seasons with ACL and Achilles injuries, has started playing four-on-four, general manager Bob Myers said Thursday during an appearance on 95.7 AM. It’s coming up on the one-year mark since he underwent surgery on his torn right Achilles, Nov. 25, 2020.

Wiseman’s rookie season was marred by health concerns and eventually ended prematurely by a torn meniscus after the Warriors made him the second overall selection in the NBA draft two years ago. Since going under the knife April 15, his approach to his recovery has been “incremental,” according to Kerr, but it is entering its final stages.

“He’s doing more and more each day,” Kerr said. “There hasn’t been that ‘ah-ha’ moment where he just took this leap. We’ve been purposely deliberate the last couple of months and just slowly ramping things up. He’s moving well and he’s engaged in a lot of drill work in practice and doing 5-on-0 stuff. … Over the next couple weeks, there should be three-on-three involved, and you just hope to ramp it up from there.”

The exact timeline for both players’ returns will be determined by how their bodies adjust to five-on-five competition.

Their roles and expectations when they return are also still unclear.

Both figure to play an important part in a potential playoff run, but that is months down the road. In the immediate future, consider both players have gone months without facing NBA-level speed and competition.

The Warriors have been clear that Wiseman won’t be the focal point of the offense that he was often relied upon to be during a turbulent rookie season. Thompson, no doubt, will reclaim his starting role — but there’s no guarantee it happens immediately upon his return.

“I guess I think he would start. I don’t know, though,” Myers said in his radio interview. “Klay’s gonna decide, I imagine. If he wants to start, I don’t think we’d say no. … Starting or not, that’s Steve Kerr. … Klay’s gonna decide, I imagine. If he wants to start, I don’t think we’d say no.”

The Warriors’ hope is to get Thompson back before Christmas, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported this week.

The plan, according to the report, entails Thompson sticking back on the Warriors’ next extended road trip at the start of December and potentially rejoining the team when they return home.

The team has said publicly that Thompson’s first game back will come in front of the home fans. According to Wojnarowski, they are targeting the Dec. 20 contest against Sacramento for Thompson’s long-awaited return.

Unlike Wiseman, Thompson has yet to be cleared for full practice.

Wiseman is believed to be closer to competition-ready, with Golden State reportedly targeting the week of Thanksgiving for his return to the court.

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