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Trade deadline mailbag bonanza

The Warriors might shake things up, but they might not.

Philadelphia 76ers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors are about to enter a very interesting trade deadline. That seems as good a time as any for a mailbag.

So let’s jump into some questions.

Yes. The absolute worst thing that the Warriors can do right now is keep Kelly Oubre Jr. for the rest of the season, and then lose him in free agency. If Oubre isn’t dealt, then that’s a risk that the Warriors are willing to take, but they’ll almost surely pursue another contract with him.

As a reminder for those not up to speed on the Warriors salary cap situation: They can re-sign Oubre for any price, though it will come with an enormous tax payment. But if he walks, because the team is over the salary cap, they’ll have no way of replacing him with anything other than the veteran’s minimum contracts and the mid-level exception that they would have regardless. The only way to keep that roster spot flexibility is by re-signing Oubre, or trading him for someone who is a part of the long-term plans.

Not sure where you’re seeing those rumors, but I’ve yet to see anything suggesting the Warriors are trying to trade Andrew Wiggins.

I’m not sure how enamored the Dubs are with Wiggins — “relatively good” might be a stretch, and it’s certainly not what you hope for out of a player cashing checks north of $30 million. But his contract is incredibly difficult to trade. The Warriors won’t be looking to deal him, simply because right now his contract is a negative, so they would have to send out other assets to make another team take the deal. Right now the Dubs are in the business of adding players, not shedding salary.

Smart money says no. I’m sure the Warriors are making a lot of phone calls, and answering a lot of phone calls, but for most NBA teams, the trade deadline ends up being a lot quieter than fans hoped.

Great question. Yes, the Warriors can use their disabled player exception, granted when Klay Thompson suffered a season-ending injury, on a buyout candidate. That gives the team roughly $9.2 million to spend on a player. And if the Warriors don’t use the DPE, it expires at season’s end — it doesn’t roll over into next season.

With that said, let’s remember four things:

  1. While the DPE is an exception, it doesn’t allow for an extra roster spot. The Warriors would still need to cut or trade a player before signing anyone, since their roster is full.
  2. The DPE is still taxed like any other contract, meaning the Warriors would owe 3-5 times the cost of the DPE in taxes alone.
  3. Buyouts are pretty rare.
  4. Most buyout candidates are looking to sign with championship contenders.

So, when you add all that up, we end up with this: yes, the Warriors can use the DPE on a buyout candidate. No, I wouldn’t anticipate it happening.

First off, I don’t think that proposed trade would be very likely. In addition to the fact that the salaries don’t even come close to matching, I don’t envision the Pacers being overly thrilled at the idea of trading away their two-time All-Star for a young center when they already have a young center who’s really good.

Second, I don’t think the Warriors are going to give up on James Wiseman after 30 games, especially when he’s been pretty good (for a 19-year old rookie) in those games. Even if you disagree with being high on him, the Warriors drafted him No. 2 — ahead of LaMelo Ball and many others — for a reason, and they’re not going to just bail on that reason.

Now, as for why they’re so high? He’s an out-of-this-world athlete, with great touch, and a tremendous work ethic. The players and coaches both sing his praises repeatedly, and it feels very honest. The sky is the limit for Wiseman, it’s just a matter of how high can he fly, and how quickly can he get there.

I would list it somewhere between “very unlikely” and “impossible.” Oladipo is approaching free agency, is looking for a big payday, and hasn’t been particularly good in a few years. I think the fit is good if he bounces back, but he’ll be looking for a paycheck much bigger than what the Warriors would like to give to an unknown.

Lauri Markkanen would be a fun addition, but I don’t see the Warriors trying to trade for him. While it’s fun to dream about a 7-footer who makes nearly 40% of this threes, Markkanen is, if you’ll forgive the lack of nuance, not very good.

Despite being a highly efficient scorer, most advanced metrics paint Markkanen as a player with a modest negative offensive impact, and a large negative defensive impact. Add in his injury history, and the fact that he plays the same position as Draymond Green, and I just don’t see it.

Sign and trades are extremely rare for a reason, and they’re not something you can bank on. The Warriors would have to hope that the team Oubre wants to sign with in free agency A) doesn’t have the cap space to sign him outright, and B) has assets they’re willing to part with that C) the Warriors want. That’s asking for a lot, especially given how many teams will have cap space next year.

Remember: no one is under any obligation to execute a sign and trade. Oubre can sign anywhere he wants, and if that team has the space to sign him, they have nothing to gain by doing a sign and trade. Sign and trades really only work when a team’s free agent destination doesn’t have the requisite cap space for a signing.

It’s hard to find any likely trades. While I’m sure the Warriors will exhaust their options with Kelly Oubre Jr., I think the most likely deal is still something like Brad Wanamaker and Mychal Mulder for a second-round pick.

This is a somewhat impossible question. I think Andrew Wiggins is a slightly better player than Kelly Oubre Jr., and I think he’s a better fit with the team. So if you’re just asking, “which player would you rather lose?” the answer is Oubre.

But here’s the thing about Wiggins: He has a max contract, which means he’s unlikely to be traded for anyone other than another player on a max contract. You know the rumors of a Bradley Beal deal, or a Ben Simmons trade? They all include Wiggins, because it’s the only way to make the logistics work (short of trading one of their core players). Now, the Warriors would obviously have to add a whole lot of sweetener to the pot to make a trade happen, which is why it’s highly unlikely, but you see what I’m getting at: Wiggins would probably only be traded if the Warriors got a star back.

So I think the Warriors would be better off losing Oubre than Wiggins in a vacuum, but an alert on my phone saying “the Warriors have traded Andrew Wiggins” is going to make my heart rate rise a bit more than one saying “the Warriors have traded Kelly Oubre Jr.”

Thanks everyone for the great questions. Enjoy the trade deadline!

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