The Golden State Warriors are heading into another pivotal offseason. General manager Bob Myers has some tough decisions to make.
The Warriors hold two lottery picks (Nos. 7 and 14) and could trade one or both to try and acquire a veteran. They could also use both picks to bring in some young talent to supplement the core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
Although much of the focus has been on what the Warriors will do their draft picks, another big story this offseason is what happens with forward Kelly Oubre Jr.
The 25-year-old was acquired to help mitigate the loss of All-Star guard Klay Thompson. Myers acted quickly when word broke that Thompson suffered an Achilles injury that would keep him out for the season, getting Oubre from the Oklahoma City Thunder within hours of the announcement.
Things didn’t start too well for Oubre. He began the season shooting just 26.8 percent from the field and a paltry 4.8 percent from beyond the arc. Oubre didn’t look comfortable in head coach Steve Kerr’s system and seemed out of place with Golden State.
Thankfully for the Dubs, Oubre began to turn things around in February. The 25-year-old averaged 20.1 points and 6.4 rebounds in February and shot an impressive 43 percent from deep.
But bad injury luck struck going into March. Oubre suffered a wrist injury in a blowout loss to the Lakers, forcing him to miss two weeks. Oubre never regained his form following the injury.
He only eclipsed the 20-point mark in five out of the remaining 20 games he suited up for the rest of the season. Oubre’s shooting fell off once again as he connected on just 29.8 percent of his 3-point attempts the rest of the way.
The underlying numbers also aren’t kind to Oubre. The Warriors gave up 11.6 fewer points per 100 possessions with Oubre out of the game, and Dubs’ offensive rating was 8.8 points better with him on the bench.
With Oubre up for free agency, Myers will need to quickly decide what he wants to do with the forward. The Warriors own his bird rights and could try and re-sign Oubre, but it will likely come with a hefty luxury tax bill. Myers could also use a sign-and-trade to try and acquire an asset instead of losing Oubre for nothing in free agency.
Head coach Steve Kerr touched on Oubre’s season during his season-ending media availability.
“It would be great to have Kelly back,” Steve Kerr said. ”He’s really, really talented. Obviously it was tricky at times finding the exact right role. He’s a free agent. He’s gonna have to decide what he wants.
“I said it before — Klay [Thompson] is gonna start when he gets back. Would Kelly be interested in coming off the bench? That’s a question only he can answer. He’ll weigh his options, we’ll weigh ours, and we’ll see where it all goes.
“But really like Kelly [and] really think he’s got great potential to be very helpful on our team.”
Oubre was asked about Kerr’s comments during a recent appearance on Chris Haynes’ podcast.
“I don’t even want to speak and elaborate on much on that situation,” Oubre said to Yahoo’s Haynes on his latest episode of the Posted Up podcast. ”But all I’ll tell you is that it put fire in my heart. It added more fuel to the fire.
“Being 25 years old, the way that my career has been shaping out, the growth that I’ve shown in my career to go from the 15th pick to continuously have my numbers grow each and every year and my role and opportunity on the team to grow each and every year to have a year where my opportunity is lessened, and then as the year goes on I’m put into this category of trying to shape out the future of the organization when I haven’t been given a fair opportunity to show what I can do on a large scale — yeah, it is unfair.
“But all I could do was go do my job and play. Keep focused and be professional. I was just worried about playing basketball for the team, and now I’m blessed to be an unrestricted free agent.”
It sounds like Oubre wouldn’t be thrilled with the prospect of coming off the bench. Thompson will be brought along slowly as he tries to work himself back into game shape and Myers has said Thompson would likely miss the beginning of next season. If that is the case, Oubre would undoubtedly be in the conversation to be a starter for the first few weeks of the season until Klay returns.
What do you think will happen with Oubre? Is there any chance he will be back with the Warriors? Or is his time in the Bay Area done after just one season?
On to some links:
Many in the NBA world are keeping their eyes on the Warriors this offseason. Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports says the Dubs are the most intriguing team to watch this summer.
Kerr helped coach former Warrior Kevin Durant to two NBA titles during his three seasons witht he team. Durant responded to Kerr’s comments about his social media use. (Heavy.com)