NBA trade rumors reached the Warriors this week, when reports of a potential Kelly Oubre Jr. to the Pelicans trade surfaced and spread across the league.
But man, after Kelly Oubre’s terrible performance in the Warriors lopsided loss to the Suns on Thursday, would anybody even want to trade for him?
This story is larger than one night, however, though Oubre shot 1-for-11 and had four points in Golden State’s 114-93 defeat. According to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, and according to the money trail behind Oubre’s contract, this week likely won’t be the last time his name surfaces in such rumors.
Oubre’s contractual circumstance won’t make him safe until after the March trade deadline. He’s sitting on a valuable, expiring $14 million deal, on a team that must balance current needs with a massive tax bill and future salary-cap restraints. Of their high-salary pieces, he’s the least linked to next season’s roster, the most maneuverable.
So the chatter will continue to sit under the surface. Oubre, experienced in this realm, did an encouraging job of handling his first wave of it this season, putting together one of his two best games with his new team, the type of performance that could, if done consistently enough, improve the Warriors’ belief that he could be more than a rental.The Athletic
As you can probably tell, this was written before Oubre’s clunker on Thursday. Previously, he did well in the face of the trade rumors. But he faced his former team on Thursday in the Suns, and he had probably his worst game of the season, with some “Shaqtin’ a Fool” type moments putting his bad performance over the top.
But as Slater writes, Oubre’s contract is worth a lot to any team looking to clear cap space, and there are usually many such teams. In fact, it holds such value, that Oubre doesn’t even have to play well for teams to call and ask about him, as they did days before the Suns game.
I don’t expect Kerr to endorse any such move from general manager Bob Myers. Kerr loves Oubre’s energy and defense; Kerr wants to build the team with a defense-first mindset. Without Klay Thopson, Golden State needs a to-flight defender playing next to guard Stephen Curry.
And until Thompson returns form injury, Oubre’s got to hold it down. Unless a team calls with an especially attractive offer … because you just never know what will happen in the NBA.
(Photo credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)