Warriors39 Andrew Wiggins returns but personal matter not fully resolved

Warriors' Andrew Wiggins returns, but personal matter not fully resolved – NBC Sports Bay Area & California

SAN FRANCISCO — Andrew Wiggins returned to the Bay Area on Monday, returned to the Warriors for practice on Tuesday and will play on Wednesday. If he has to leave again on Thursday, that will be understood and accepted.

If someone from the team has to leave because of a serious family matter, this is understood and accepted.

“I don’t care about the basketball part,” coach Steve Kerr said after practice Tuesday. “Life is much more important than the game. The main thing is: if one of our players has a life situation where he needs to be with his family, then he will be there.

“You just want everyone to be comfortable and give them the space they need, and that will always be the case with the way we work.”

Wiggins' leave of absence lasted a week. He missed four games, of which the Warriors won three. By any reasonable standard, they managed to have a successful road trip while he was away for personal family reasons.

It's important to note that Wiggins, Golden State's small forward, remained involved even during his absence. He did a few workouts and followed the Warriors as they made their way through Eastern Conference teams in Washington, New York, Toronto and Boston. He liked what he saw.

“We’re on the rise,” Wiggins said. “We found something good. We found the identity we were looking for. We put together pieces that worked and the last few games have been special. Everyone is playing well, playing together and we look like the real Golden State Warriors.”

The “real” Golden State Warriors have a roster full of players who can contribute. The “real” Warriors are playing their best basketball at the most important time of the regular season. The “real” Warriors are confident that they have enough to make more than just a token appearance in the playoffs.

The “real” Warriors expect to play well while addressing the personal needs of every player and coach on the NBA’s highest payroll.

Still, there's no doubt that Wiggins' return is a boost. After a mediocre first half by his standards, Wiggins scored in double figures in 14 of his last 16 games while providing excellent perimeter defense.

He looked more like the “real” Andrew Wiggins, and the Warriors do much better at that.

That's why he'll play – and probably start – on Wednesday night when the Milwaukee Bucks take over Chase Center.

“We feel good,” Kerr said. “We’ll see how many minutes. You can't really simulate an NBA game (while away), so we'll see how he does. But physically he is completely fine to continue playing tomorrow.”

Although neither he nor Kerr revealed details of his absence, it affected Wiggins so much that he was removed from his job.

“I'm just taking care of what I had to take care of and being there for what I need to be there for,” Wiggins said of his absence. “I think this is the right time to come back. That's how I felt. So I’m back here with the team and ready to get started.”

What remains are pertinent questions related to Wiggins' state of mind. Can he fully concentrate on his basketball duties every minute of the game? Is he able to perform the mental gymnastics that might be required to perform at a high level?

Some players, regardless of sport, may be affected by events off the field or field, just as some employees in any job will find it difficult to stay on task during work hours if their personal lives become more stressful.

The only thing Wiggins knows and certainly feels is that his workplace is a safe place.

“Being around the team means love and support,” he said. “It's a family here. When I was away, I missed the boys and basketball. I’m happy to be back.”

Wiggins' happiness comes with caution and is conditional. He's been through this before and experience shows him that circumstances can change quickly. This became clear when he was asked on Tuesday whether the matter he raised had been resolved.

“Not quite,” he said. “But I’m just going to take it day by day.”

There may come a time — perhaps this week or next week or next month — when Wiggins will have to decide again whether to stay with his teammates or return to his family. It's reassuring to know that both decisions are accepted.

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