Warriors May Be Forced to Part Ways With Starting Guard: Report

Kelly Oubre

Getty Kelly Oubre Jr. drives the ball in a game against the Brooklyn Nets.

The Golden State Warriors made a strong commitment to Kelly Oubre Jr. at the trade deadline, but the team may not be able to afford to hold onto the talented wing much longer, an insider says.

Oubre, who has an expiring contract and is expected to snag a significant contract in free agency, was a popular trade target around the deadline, but the Warriors decided against dealing him. The hope was that he might be able to help with a playoff push, but Oubre ended up having his season cut short by injury and the Warriors failed to make it out of the play-in tournament and into the playoffs.

Golden State will now have an important decision to make, with a significant investment needed to bring back Oubre and the team instead looking for players who could be more of a bargain.

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Warriors Facing Salary Cap Crunch

Going into the 2021-22 season, the Warriors are looking at a major salary cap crunch even before any decision is made about Oubre. ESPN’s Bobby Marks characterized the team’s luxury tax situation as dire, with Golden State facing a massive penalty that would make it even more expensive to re-sign Oubre.

“Oh it’s dire, I think Joe Lacob even came out and said it, they’re in the repeater tax,” Marks said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “So basically, this will be the fourth time in five years that they are going to be a luxury tax team. So basically, the penalty is double as far as what it’s going to cost them. So if you’re paying $60 million in luxury tax, it might be $120 million now. So to bring back Kelly Oubre, it might cost you $70 million on a $15 million contract, so you’re paying for an $85 million player.”

Marks added that the writing could be on the wall for Oubre’s future with the Warriors. He noted that general manager Bob Myers spoke about a need to find more veteran players, which Marks saw as a euphemism for older players who could sign for the league minimum. Oubre would likely not be such a bargain. As Mike Mazzeo of Forbes noted, Oubre is expected to seek a multi-year deal worth $20-25 million annually — a significant jump from the $14.4 million he made last season.

Warriors Passed On Trading Oubre

Golden State may have missed the best opportunity to squeeze some value from Oubre before he heads to a new team. Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that the Brooklyn Nets offered the injured Spencer Dinwiddie for Oubre at the trade deadline. The deal could have given the Warriors an important piece for next season, when the team hopes to jump back into title contention with the expected return of Klay Thompson.

But as Stein noted, the Warriors were still concerned about their immediate postseason hopes, and opted against dealing Oubre.

“Golden State rejected those overtures because it is still desperate to make the playoffs,” Stein wrote. “While numerous Oubre trade scenarios came up, Golden State was not going to trade him for someone who couldn’t help the team in the short term.”

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