by Alex Poletti
Photo by NBC Sports
Following a blockbuster at the NBA trade deadline that sent D’Angelo Russell to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr sat down with the team’s most recent acquisition, Andrew Wiggins, to tell him that he’ll be playing a crucial role on the team going forward, tasking the forward with handing out high fives and fist bumps on the bench when the starters come to the sidelines.
“This is a big responsibility, but I think you can handle it,” the 2016 NBA Coach of the Year tells Wiggins. “Someone has to shoulder the load of greeting teammates after they’ve played their minutes. It’s difficult, it requires a lot of skill, but that’s the reason we sought you out.”
While Andrew Wiggins is the biggest name coming back to Golden State in the trade, he isn’t the hottest commodity, as the Pack also sent over a 2021 first- and second-round pick. While Wiggins isn’t unwelcomed on the Warriors squad, he was really only included in the deal to balance out the salaries.
“We’re so glad to have you here,” Kerr reiterates. “In fact, we are so joyous that we got a special seat on the sideline just for you, where you can watch every game of the season. You’ll get to interact with members of the Warriors and even participate in pre-game activities. I think you’ll have a lot of fun.”
Wiggins, the first overall draft pick back in 2014, hasn’t panned out exactly as the Timberwolves would have hoped. Despite handing him a five-year, $148 million contract in October, 2017, the former Kansas Jayhawk had 0.6 win shares and a BPM of -2.9 last season. With those numbers, he couldn’t help Karl-Anthony Towns pull Minnesota up to .500
D’Angelo Russell came to the Warriors as part of the sign-and-trade package from the Brooklyn Nets for Kevin Durant. A guard, Russell would’ve been kicked from the lineup when shooting guard Klay Thompson returned from injury. Following Steph Curry’s season-ending hand fracture, Russell led the faltering Warriors’ offense.
“The way I see it, we can either let Wiggins play with a bunch of G-leaguers,” Kerr tells The Second String, “or we can let him sit on the bench where he belongs. I can’t tell you which option would help us win more.”