James Wiseman will not see the court in his second season in the NBA after the Golden State Warriors made the decision to shut him down for the year.
Wiseman's rookie season was cut short by a meniscal tear in his right knee, for which he underwent surgery last April.
The center – the second overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft – had averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds across his first 39 professional games.
But Wiseman has not added to those numbers in 2021-22, spending the entire season rehabilitating his knee.
Now, with only nine games of the regular season remaining, the Warriors have confirmed the 20-year-old will not return – even with a playoff campaign to come.
Warriors general manager Bob Myers explained the decision in a statement released by the team on Friday.
"We've maintained throughout his entire rehabilitation process that we're going to be patient and look out for James' best interests in what we anticipate to be a long and successful career," Myers said. "As a 20-year-old, his entire career is ahead of him.
"For us, as an organisation, our focus is on James' long-term health, and we're confident – and our doctors are confident – that this long-term approach will help James become the player we believe he will evolve into when he returns to the court."
James Wiseman, who has missed the first 73 games of the 2021-22 season after undergoing surgery to repair a meniscal tear in his right knee, will be sidelined for the remainder of the season, including the 2022 NBA Playoffs. pic.twitter.com/ebv6ILitHy— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 25, 2022
Coach Steve Kerr added his input when meeting with the media as the Warriors prepared for their game against the Atlanta Hawks.
"Ultimately, it's very simple: we're just protecting James' future," Kerr said. "It makes the most sense to go this route.
"I feel terrible for James – he's been through so much already in just two seasons – but his long-term health looks good, the knee looks sound.
"It's just a decision that we feel makes the most sense for his own best interest and our best interest as well."
Kerr explained it was a call made "in the name of being cautious" as Wiseman's knee is "structurally sound, but he has swelling".
"It didn't make sense to play him over the next couple of weeks, that's where the knee is," the coach added.
And Kerr is confident the Warriors will not be left short at center in their postseason run.
"I still feel really good about our roster and the situation at center with Draymond [Green] and Loon [Kevon Looney] and Bjeli [Nemanda Bjelica], JK [Jonathan Kuminga] can play small-ball five, Otto [Porter Jr.] as well," he said. "I feel fine about our depth there."