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Mailbag: Next year’s roster, Kelly Oubre Jr.’s future, and James Wiseman

All that and more.

Golden State Warriors v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors are a few days away from getting back in action after a much-needed All-Star break. so that means it’s time to answer some mailbag questions.

We know that the Warriors are going to explore buyout candidates, because they were reportedly interested in Blake Griffin’s services before the big man opted to join the stacked Brooklyn Nets. And The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported that the Warriors are interested in Otto Porter Jr. should he secure a buyout from the Chicago Bulls.

Golden State will keep monitoring the market. But it’s rare for good players to get bought out, and rarer still for them to sign with fringe playoff teams instead of contenders. So while a move wouldn’t surprise me, there’s no one I’d be keeping an eye on.

This is perhaps the most important question facing the Warriors right now, and it has a monstrous impact on what happens in the next few years.

To recap, for those unfamiliar with the situation: The Warriors are well over the salary cap, with or without Kelly Oubre Jr., who will be a free agent after this year. If they keep him all year, they can re-sign him to any price, albeit with a massive tax payment. If they keep him all year, they can risk losing him in free agency, without any way to spend that money. And if they trade him this year — Kevin O’Connor also reported that the Warriors are interested in trading for Victor Oladipo — they can keep the financial avenue of spending some more money going forward.

Unless Joe Lacob is suddenly interested in being frugal, the Warriors will be trying to make sure they avoid the second scenario. As this year has shown, they’re lacking depth, and they don’t want to sacrifice any situations that allow them to keep quality players.

Oubre has expressed an interest in staying in the Bay Area long term, and his February performance suggested that he may have turned a corner with the Dubs’ offensive scheme. If I had to guess, he stays on the roster all year, and the team tries to secure him on a modest, long-term deal in the summer. But they will definitely answer the phone if it rings.

I think “wait until next year” is the answer, while also giving more time to Jordan Poole and maybe Nico Mannion. There aren’t very many playmaking point guards in the league, let alone ones that are available.

I think the Warriors are not quite as quick to react as many fans are, and they’re definitely less interested in the “what if” game. The reality is, the majority of draft picks are made with someone better still on the board. The Warriors will be less interested in how James Wiseman compares to LaMelo Ball, and much more interested in if James Wiseman can be a valuable part of a championship core in the next years.

I think they’re still very optimistic about that.

I would assume Brad Wanamaker and Mychal Mulder are gone. Kent Bazemore has been a godsend this season, but becomes less valuable when Klay Thompson returns, so he could be gone. Damion Lee and Juan Toscano-Anderson are free agents as well, and while the coaching staff likes both of them, tough choices will need to be made.

I lean towards Alen Smailagić leaving, but if the team is intent on keeping him around, perhaps they part ways with Marquese Chriss. Eric Paschall or Jordan Poole could easily be traded.

The Warriors will make some of those choices, and players will make some of those choices. But even though the roster is full now, there are plenty of areas for open spots.

One thing to remember: a large portion of the Warriors fanbase was sad when the team waived Ky Bowman. I don’t say this to disparage Bowman, just to serve as a reminder that we become emotionally invested in the players on the roster, and sometimes overrate them. The Warriors may have a roster full of players we love, but a good amount of them are expendable if you’re trying to build a contender.

They should focus on being the best possible team. A mid-lottery pick would be nice, but entering next season with Andrew Wiggins looking comfortable and confident in the system, and James Wiseman finding his groove, is much, much nicer.

It’s worth noting that Bob Myers assembled the bulk of the bench with the belief that Klay Thompson would be around. Klay’s injury threw everything for a loop, as suddenly everyone’s role had to change. For instance, how much better does Damion Lee look in the second unit when benefitting from Thompson’s space and gravity, rather than being asked to initiate his own offense? You can ask the same question about Eric Paschall.

Myers also had to operate with limited money, which is never easy. So I think some of the criticisms are a bit over the top.

All that said ... yes, Myers should be held accountable. This year’s roster construction is not something he’ll be putting at the top of his CV. He deserves some blame for the rough bench, even if he was put in a difficult position.

I lean towards no, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all. The day that Kevon Looney took over as a starter, Steve Kerr said it was a fluid situation and James Wiseman could be back in the starting lineup in the next few days.

Since then, Wiseman got injured, has struggled a bit in his return, and the team has started sinking a little bit. Right now it doesn’t seem like there’s any reason to put him back in with the starters.

But it’s a long season and a lot can change.

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions. We’ll do it again next week.

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