At just 20 years old, Jonathan Kuminga has already endured a roller coaster of an NBA journey. The No. 7 overall pick in the 2021 draft, Kuminga displayed athleticism and promise as a rookie that convinced the Golden State Warriors that he could be a much larger part of their rotation during the 2022-23 season. Instead he received sporadic playing time, falling out of the rotation entirely at points during the regular season and playoffs.
It leaves the Warriors in an interesting position as they attempt to rebound from a second-round playoff exit the year after winning their fourth NBA title in eight seasons. The infamous "two timelines" strategy hasn't panned out, as Kuminga has failed to blossom, Moses Moody hardly played until the postseason and James Wiseman was traded before the deadline for Gary Payton II.
As it turns out, the Warriors may be ready to cut bait with another of their developing prospects soon. According to ESPN's Jonathan Givony, Golden State is exploring the possibility of trading Kuminga or another of its young players in order to move up for a "high draft pick."
A split between Kuminga and the Warriors isn't a novel idea. Last month, after the Warriors were eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers in six games, The Athletic reported that Kuminga and his representatives could request a trade if he wasn't guaranteed a full-time role in Golden State moving forward.
Kuminga also raised some alarm bells with comments about his lack of playing time during the postseason.
"It's tough going through this season and being in (the game) most of the time and then things just flip out of nowhere without you knowing what's going on," Kuminga told The San Francisco Chronicle last month. " ... It's still tough to lock in every single time. It's still tough to smile every single time."
The Warriors face numerous offseason questions, including the potential free agency of Draymond Green, a possible extension for Klay Thompson, the four-year, $128 million Jordan Poole contract that kicks in next season, plus the search for a new front office leader after the exit of Bob Myers.
If Golden State gets the band back together, a starting spot is essentially off the table for Kuminga, who would fall behind Green and Andrew Wiggins in the frontcourt, with Moody, Payton, last year's first-round pick Patrick Baldwin Jr., and any potential offseason acquisitions also vying for time at the forward spot.
Should the Warriors have their eye on a prospect at a different position that perhaps helps unclog the logjam, trading Kuminga could certainly make sense. On the other had, Kuminga has shown the ability to be a quality two-way wing with an All-Star ceiling (or higher), so it would be hard to imagine giving up on a 20-year-old with that upside. His talent was on display during a promising stretch from mid-February to the end of the regular season, when he averaged 13.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game on 56 percent field goal shooting, including 44 percent from 3-point range, while Wiggins was away from the team.
But therein lies the problem for the Warriors. With Stephen Curry at an MVP level, plus an aging Green and Thompson, they know their championship window is still open, but rapidly closing. They want to compete for championships without leaving the cupboard bare for when those guys finally move on, which is a monumental challenge that could involve difficult decisions.