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Kerr: Wiggins a better positional fit than Russell
5:46 PM ET
  • Nick FriedellESPN Staff Writer

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      Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

SAN FRANCISCO — The Golden State Warriors are confident new swingman Andrew Wiggins will fit well into the culture that the championship-caliber organization has built over time.

They also believe he’ll be a better fit with their roster than D’Angelo Russell, who went to the Minnesota Timberwolves as the key player in Thursday’s deal.

“To be perfectly blunt, the fit was questionable when we signed him,” Kerr said Friday of Russell. “Nobody questioned that. When you already have Steph [Curry] and Klay [Thompson] and you add a ball-dominant guard, you can rightfully question the fit. It was one of the reasons the trade rumors started even before the season began. And I think D’Angelo understood that when he signed the contract. And our organization understood that, as well.

“We at least got a 50-game look [at] what it might look like. Of course, that kind of went awry when Steph got injured. But you get a good enough look, a long enough look, to picture how the positional fit goes, and I think you have an idea. I think we have an idea that the other move [acquiring Wiggins] makes more sense. And in this case, I would say [it does] for both teams.”

Wiggins, a small forward, didn’t always show the consistent fire Minnesota wanted to see — but Kerr is confident Wiggins can have success within Golden State’s system.

“I think for most players, this league is about the right fit,” Kerr said. “There’s some guys who are going to fit no matter what. The very best players in the game, they can go to any team in the league and they’ll fit. But for the vast majority of NBA players, the fit is everything. We feel like the fit here is really good for Andrew. We have a hole at that spot. We’ve lost Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston on the wing the last year. Klay’s been gone all this year.

“So there’s a position waiting for him. He’s going to be playing next to three All-Stars at different positions — Draymond [Green], Steph and Klay. Guys who he’ll really enjoy playing with. And he’ll be playing with a group of guys who know how to win. Andrew’s 24 years old; he’s still a very young player. And so I think for him to be next to the guys I just mentioned, guys who have been through everything in this league and can help him along, I think it’s all positive. But there’s a lot of work ahead, there’s no question.”

The belief within the organization is that Wiggins also can acclimate quickly into the Warriors’ up-tempo style. While Kerr and Warriors general manager Bob Myers repeatedly praised Russell for the way he handled himself since being acquired in July after a sign-and-trade deal with the Brooklyn Nets for Durant, the organization came to the conclusion a trade was the best option.

Myers, who said in July that Russell wasn’t acquired just to be flipped later, noted that one of the key reasons to make the deal now was to get out of the luxury tax this season and allow for more financial flexibility in the future.

“Fortunately for me, I work for an ownership group that’s spent maybe as much or more than anybody in the last four years,” Myers said. “A lot of owners have kind of mandates, ‘You’re not going in the tax; we’re not going to be repeater [tax teams].’ Joe [Lacob] is so competitive, he just doesn’t think that way. But at the same time, to be where we are and be in the tax didn’t make a lot of sense. … And the decision was both financial — we’ve talked about willingness to spend — [and basketball related].”

As for Wiggins, Kerr said there is a “chance” he will be available to play Saturday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“He’s coming in [Friday night], but there are a number of hurdles that he and the rest of the players involved in the deal have to — both sides have to do their due diligence on physicals,” Kerr said. “I talked to Andrew yesterday; he’s very excited to get here. We sort of left it open as to whether he would play.”

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