It appears one pipe dream for the Warriors next season — that guard Kelly Oubre Jr. would anchor the Golden State bench — is officially over.
The scenario was always a long shot. But that didn’t stop Warriors coach Steve Kerr from floating the proposition during the recently completed regular season. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports asked Oubre — who is now a free agent — what he thought about Kerr musing about his hypothetical spot on the Golden State bench next season.
First, Oubre said he didn’t really want to speak on it. But then he did, and here’s what he said, with a video from Yahoo Sports below to fill in any context.
“All I will tell you is it put fire in my heart,” Oubre told Haynes. “Being 25 years old, the way my career has been shaping out … the growth I’ve shown in my career … to having 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 for the organization, when I haven’t been given a fair opportunity to show what I can do, on a large scale.
“You know, to what you said, obviously, yeah, it is unfair. But all I can do is do my job and play. And be professional. I was worried about playing basketball for the team. And now I’m blessed to be an unrestricted free agent. The goal is to grow and get better each and every year.”
First of all, props to Oubre for being a pro. It seemed as though Kerr’s comments should have bothered him, which they apparently did, but I certainly couldn’t tell. He tried to play through a wrist injury to no avail and then cheered for his team from the bench for the rest of the season (ironically).
And I don’t blame Oubre Jr. for taking exception to being targeted for a bench role by Kerr on the eve of Oubre’s free agency. As a young player with big-time goals, he should draw inspiration from what could be perceived as a slight.
But most of all, what seemed obvious before is clear at last: there’s just no room on the Warriors roster for Oubre — financially or otherwise, especially considering G Klay Thompson’s return. It was an solid one-year run, and now all parties can chase their own goals.
Oubre made a fan out of me though, I’ll say. His season was choppy at best, but wasn’t the entire campaign/entire roster just as uneven? His mixture of professionalism and individuality won me over, especially with his true feelings about his potential bench role finally revealed.
Bonus info: Oubre Jr. also told Haynes that “at the end of the day” he’s a Warrior right now. That’s a nice sentiment, and further confirms his team-first attitude. He was hesitant to talk negatively about his “future benching” from Kerr, but he couldn’t help himself. Still, at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean he has disdain for the Warriors.