The Warriors‘ recent win over the Pistons saw Jonathan Kuminga in action for longer than he had been previously at any point this season. The 21-year-old forward was on the basketball court for 36 minutes and helped lift Golden State to a 113-109 win over Detroit.
Kuminga’s playing time, or lack thereof in some cases, came to the forefront after he was pulled in the third quarter of a recent game against the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets.
Kuminga never returned to the game and finished the night with 16 points in 19 minutes. The Warriors ultimately suffered a three-point loss to Denver. According to The Athletic, the late-game benching served as the “last straw” for unhappy Kuminga.
The 2021 first-round draft pick reportedly even questioned whether longtime Warriors head coach Steve Kerr had his best interests at heart.
But Kuminga’s playing time peaked in the Warriors’ next game. He was on the hardwood for every minute of the fourth during the victory over the struggling Detroit Pistons. At some point, sometime after the game against the Nuggets and the matchup with the Pistons, Kuminga met with Kerr to hash things out.
Kuminga suggested that the meeting was beneficial.
“I think it went really well,” Kuminga said of his conversation with Kerr. “I think it was just all about better understanding of each other.”
Kuminga has made strides in his development over the past three years. His role on the team increased during Draymond Green’s suspension. The young NBA player seemed to learn from the situation, but he also expressed his desire to move forward as a much happier camper.
“I love it here,” Kuminga said. “I feel like when you look at all the ups and downs, that will confuse a lot of people. But I know Steve [Kerr] believes in me. I know he trusts me at this point. It was just more about communication and better understanding. It wasn’t no beef. None of that. Scratch whatever happens. It’s the past. Move on with better understanding and hoping we all can work with each other and help this team and leave everything in the past.”
Kerr also acknowledged the difficulty that the recent situation presented, but he made it clear that he understood Kuminga’s eagerness to play.
“It’s a difficult situation because every player naturally has his own goals, his own dreams,” Kerr said Friday. “Everybody wants to flourish. Everybody wants to blossom. I have very difficult decisions to make each and every night. JK is a young player who is growing. He’s getting better. It’s why he’s in the starting lineup.”
Now that the Kuminga drama has seemingly been put to bed, the Warriors will have to figure out a way to contend with the loss of Chris Paul. The veteran guard fractured his hand after he collided with a Pistons player. He is scheduled to undergo surgery next week.
“That’s tough, I feel so bad for Chris, I know he’s had a couple of hand surgeries before, I believe, maybe on the other hand,” Kerr said. “I saw him holding it and instantly was worried. Just got the word after walking off the floor. So I feel terrible for Chris and obviously, guys will step up and be ready to play. We’ve got to hold down the fort without him.”
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