An injury-riddled Golden State Warriors team that has had as few as nine healthy players at one point this season may finally be getting some of its wounded back.
On Tuesday, the Warriors assigned forwards Kevon Looney and Alen Smailagić to the team’s G League affiliate in Santa Cruz, and cleared both of them to begin accelerated on-court basketball activities. Guard Jacob Evans III — who would have gotten the bulk of minutes with an injured Stephen Curry out for three months — is making progress, but isn’t as close as Looney or Smailagić.
The returns of Golden State’s two forwards could help bolster a team that has the worst record in the NBA at 2-12, and has had to depend on a dinged up Draymond Green and rookie Eric Paschall for scoring, while center Willie Cauley-Stein has had to play 24.5 minutes per night over the last six games.
Looney, who missed the last 13 games with neuropathy in his hamstring, will participate in select practice sessions with the Santa Cruz Warriors this week and will re-join the Golden State Warriors over the weekend. We will continue to monitor his progress and will provide another update on his status on Sunday. He’s appeared in just one game this season, scoring three points and pulling down nine rebounds against the Clippers on Oct. 24.
Smailagić, who spent the 2018-19 season with the Santa Cruz Warriors, has yet to appear in a game for Golden State this year due to a sprained right ankle. He, too, will participate in select practice sessions with Santa Cruz before joining the Warriors over the weekend. His status will be updated in another week.
Though Smailagić is a bit of a project, physically, given Golden State’s shortened center rotation (Looney and Marquese Chriss are more forwards by trade) and long recoveries expected for stars Stephen Curry (broken finger), Klay Thompson (ACL, will be re-evaluated in February) and to some extent D’Angelo Russell (sprained thumb), it’s likely he’ll see a lot of meaningful minutes this season.
The Serbian teenager was originally selected by the New Orleans Pelicans in the second round (39th overall) of the 2019 NBA Draft before Golden State acquired his draft rights in exchange for the Warriors’ 2021 and 2023 second round selections along with cash considerations.
Evans, who has missed the last 11 games after suffering a strained left adductor on Oct. 28 against the Pelicans, was re-evaluated earlier today by the team’s medical staff. The evaluation indicated that Evans is making progress. He will be re-evaluated again in two weeks.