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Mailbag: Kevon Looney’s option, Kelly Oubre Jr.’s future, and more

Plus, what will the rotation look like next year?

Charlotte Hornets v Golden State Warriors Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors are winding down their season, and making a strong push up the standings in the Western Conference. So before we settle in for Tuesday’s massive game against the Dallas Mavericks, let’s answer some mailbag questions.

Thanks to everyone who submitted these great questions.

I would be very surprised if Kevon Looney opts out of his contract, which is for just shy of $5.2 million. Personally, I think $5.2 million for Looney is a steal for the Warriors, but I’m not convinced other teams view it similarly.

Looney is a smart and talented player, but he doesn’t put up traditional stats — he rarely scores, blocks a limited amount of shots, and doesn’t have great rebounding numbers. We know that those stats don’t tell the whole story, but GMs are still hesitant to give big contracts to players who are averaging 3.9 points per game.

Remember: when Looney signed his three-year, $15 million deal, the other free agent center contracts that year included Dewayne Dedmon (three years, $43 million), Thomas Bryant (three years, $25 million), Taj Gibson (two years, $20 million), and Frank Kaminsky (two years, $10 million).

Numbers pay, and Looney doesn’t have those. Add in the injury history, the fact that teams are going to be post-recession frugal, and that he clearly enjoys being part of the Warriors organization, and I’d be shocked if he opts out.

Pretty low. A lot has to go right for Kelly Oubre Jr. to re-sign as a sixth man. First, the Warriors have to be committed to bringing him back. Second, he has to want to re-sign, after publicly stating that he can offer more than a role off the bench. And third, the Warriors have to be willing to match the contracts he gets offered elsewhere — which the Dubs will be ludicrously taxed for.

But there is a chance, and the Warriors current experiment with Oubre on the bench helps that chance. It gives the Warriors an opportunity to see what Oubre can offer in that role, and I’m guessing they like what they see so far. And it gives Oubre an opportunity to see how big his role can be, even without the “starter” label — he’s averaging the same amount of minutes, and playing in the closing lineups. You could argue that his role has actually increased.

The better the team does down the stretch, the better the odds of a reunion. But I’d still put them as pretty slim. Maybe 15%.

Realistic but ideal? That’s always a fun set of parameters.

There are a lot of factors, but right now it begins with a starting lineup of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, and Kevon Looney, with big bench minutes from Kelly Oubre Jr. and a free agent forward acquisition, and solid bench minutes from Jordan Poole, Juan Toscano-Anderson, and another free agent acquisition. And then matchup-specific and/or developmental minutes for James Wiseman, Nico Mannion, and this year’s first-round pick(s).

The closing lineup — and hopefully the playoff starting lineup — would then have Oubre or Poole replacing Looney.

But so much hangs in the balance. Do they get the Minnesota pick, and if so, do they trade it for a win-now player? How good of a veteran can they convince to sign with the mid-level exception?

There are a lot of factors, but hopefully it boils down to the Warriors adding shooters and playing a lot of small ball, regardless of how the other chips fall.

Yes. They absolutely have to. Be it by trade, draft, or free agency, they have to improve the bench or they have no shot at competing for a title.

The unfortunate thing for Gary Payton II is that he’s an all-defense, no-offense player on a team that is pretty good defensively and struggles offensively. I don’t see him carving out a consistent role because of that, but I do think the Warriors will bring him in for stretches if they’re getting torched by an opposing point guard.

Hard to tell from the outside, but all the reports seem pretty good, and Klay Thompson seems to be in good spirits.

That said, there was a Twitter rumor swirling the other day that he could return this season. That is false, so don’t buy into it.

There’s no nation better than Dub Nation.

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