Andrew Wiggins: 'Don't think it will be long' before return

ByKendra Andrews ESPN logo
Wednesday, April 5, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO -- As Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins returns to his team after a 51-day absence, he hopes his return to the basketball court will follow soon after.

"I don't think it will be too long before I am out there," Wiggins said in his first time speaking to reporters since leaving the team Feb. 13.

Wiggins missed 22 games during his time away from the team as he dealt with a personal matter involving an ill family member. He declined to comment on the specifics of the situation.

"I'd rather keep it private," he said. "It's for me and my family and people close to family."

Wiggins worked with a personal trainer, making sure he got shots up and lifted weights in his spare time, but he appeared especially lean in his news conference.

Before he is cleared to return to play, he will be reassessed by Warriors vice president of player health and performance Rick Celebrini. Wiggins got work in on Tuesday with Celebrini, as well as on-court work with assistant coach Jama Mahlalela. However, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said it will be a few more days until the team has a clear timeline on Wiggins' status.

"We'll have a better idea in the next couple of days," Kerr said. "There's no way he's playing in the next few days, I can tell you that. But I think once we have an assessment over the next couple of days, we'll have a better idea of when he might be able to play."

Kerr's statement all but rules Wiggins out for Friday's game in Sacramento but could allow him to play in Sunday's regular-season finale in Portland.

Before Wiggins stepped away from the team, he was playing some of his best basketball of the season. In the four games leading up to his absence, Wiggins was averaging 19.3 points per game on 50% shooting, including a 29-point performance in his last game.

This was after he regained his rhythm following his recovery from an adductor strain and a non-COVID-19 illness, which caused him to miss 10 consecutive games.

"I felt really good right before I left," Wiggins said. "I felt like I was in a rhythm, was making shots, moving well. Hopefully, I'll be right back where I left off."

He rejoins the Warriors as they make their final push to remain in a top-six seed in the Western Conference and out of the play-in tournament. If they stay in the sixth seed or higher, that would give Wiggins an extra week to get his legs back underneath him until they need him for the playoffs.

But, Golden State is just grateful to have him back.

"We've missed him for the past couple of months," Kerr said. "Obviously on the court, but just his presence in the locker room and the training room. He's just got a very calming presence, in general. Everyone loves Andrew, and just having him back is fantastic."

The Warriors were always hopeful Wiggins would return this season, but it wasn't always certain -- for the organization or Wiggins.

"When you're in a certain situation and your family needs you and requires your attention and love, that's my first priority," Wiggins said. "My career, everything. Family is always first for me. When I felt like I was in a safe space to come back, we got everything settled, not totally settled, but in a safe place where I can come back."

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