Warriors' Andrew Wiggins returns, but personal matters 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 needs to leave again on Thursday, that will be understood and accepted.

If anyone on the team needs to leave due to a serious family matter, this will be understood and accepted.

“I don't care about the basketball part,” coach Steve Kerr said after Tuesday's practice. “Life is much more important than the game. The main thing is that if any of our players have a life situation where they need to be with their family, this is where they will be.

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

Wiggins' leave lasted one week. He missed four games, three of which the Warriors won. They were, by any reasonable measure, able to have a successful road trip while he was away for personal family reasons.

It's important to note that Wiggins, who started at small forward for Golden State, has remained involved during his absence. He participated in some practices and followed the Warriors as they bounced through Eastern Conference divisions in Washington, New York, Toronto and Boston. He liked what he saw.

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

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

The “real” Warriors expect to play well while taking into account the personal needs of each of the highest paid players and coaches in the NBA.

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

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

That's why he'll play — and likely start — Wednesday night, when the Milwaukee Bucks invade Chase Center.

“We feel comfortable,” Kerr said. “We'll see how many minutes. You can't really simulate an NBA game (while you're away), so we'll see how he holds up. But physically, he's in absolutely good shape to go ahead and play tomorrow.”

Although neither he nor Kerr provided details of his absence, it affected Wiggins enough to keep him out of his job.

“Just taking care of what I had to take care of, and being present for what I had to be present for.” “It's a lot of fun,” Wiggins said of his time away. “I think it's the right time to come back. That's how I felt. So, I'm back here with the team and ready to do it.

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What remains are pertinent questions regarding Wiggins' frame of mind. Can he fully focus, during every minute of the game, on his basketball responsibilities? Is he able to perform the mental gymnastics that would be required to perform at a high level?

Some players, regardless of sport, can be negatively affected by events that occur away from the field or field, just as some employees in any job will find it difficult to continue performing their tasks while working around the clock if their personal lives become more stressful.

One thing Wiggins knows and feels for sure is that his workplace is a safe place.

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

Wiggins' happiness comes with caution and conditions. He's been through this before, and experience tells him that circumstances can change quickly. That was clear when he was asked on Tuesday whether the matter he addressed had been halted.

“Not exactly,” he said. “But I'll take it one day at a time.”

There may come a time — maybe this week, next week or next month — when Wiggins has to decide, once again, whether to stay with his teammates or return to his family. There is comfort in knowing that either decision will be accepted.

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