Kuminga aired out concerns about playing time earlier this month
Golden State Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga stirred up quite a storm eariler this month when reports emerged that he had lost faith in head coach Steve Kerr. The episode led many to wonder about his future with the team, especially with the trade deadline coming up and the Warriors expected to make a move.
However, the Warriors are reluctant to move Kuminga, according to Michael Grange, who has been on the case as it relates to Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam — one of the main players linked to Golden State:
Still, according to multiple sources, the Warriors are loathe to trade Kuminga, who is seen as a potential star who can help them win now and in the future, the rare piece on the roster who can help Golden State both support Steph Curry in the present and transition to a successful post-Curry future, should it ever come.
And a not insignificant detail is that Kuminga is said to have a very close relationship with Warriors owner Joe Lacob who has historically been reluctant to part with any of the young talent that represents the Warriors’ so-called ‘two-timelines’ strategy of meshing a group of young draftees with their established championship core.
Kuminga did not play in the final 18 minutes of the Warriors’ loss to the Denver Nuggets on Dec. 4, and had to watch helplessly from the bench as their 18-point lead melted away in the final few minutes. “[Thursday night] was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” a source told Shams Charania.
This was not the first time that Kuminga and his camp have voiced their frustration, either.
“Sometimes, I come out the game not knowing what I did,” Kuminga said after the Warriors’ loss to the Nuggets on Christmas. “And that messes with my head. It’s like, ‘What they want me to do?’ I can pass and I can do different s—.”
Kerr told reporters prior to the team’s win over the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 5 that he had met with Kuminga and discussed the reports.
“We talked,” Kerr said. “Obviously those things are better discussed behind the scenes. Any time something like that goes public it creates a distraction. It’s important for all of our guys — and I talked to our whole team about it — you got an issue? I’m here. I am the most accesible coach in the league probably. My door is always open.
“It’s a difficult situation because every player naturally has his own goals, his own dreams. Everybody wants to flourish, everybody wants to blossom. We have a lot of guys who are capable of playing and I have very difficult decisions to make each and every night. [Kuminga] is a young player, he’s growing, he’s getting better, that’s why he’s been in the starting lineup. He will continue to grow and this is all part of his growth.”
Kuminga, now in his third season, is playing the best basketball of his career, and has forced his way into the starting lineup in place of Andrew Wiggins. However, because the two have overlapping skillsets and have not shown an ability to play together, there are times, such as the loss to the Nuggets, that Wiggins gets more minutes and/or closes the show.
The Kuminga versus Wiggins dilemma is one of the many reasons that the Warriors, stuck in 10th place in the Western Conference at 17-18, are expected to be active ahead of the Feb. 8 trade deadline. Kuminga, as the Warriors’ best young player, would be an obvious target for other teams, including the Raptors in a potential Siakam swap.
It appears, though, that Kuminga will be staying put.