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Warriors bet on themselves by not trading Oubre or Looney

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Kelly Oubre Steph Curry

When the dust settled after the NBA trade deadline passed Thursday, the Warriors reacted by clearing their collective throat and tossing a flag into the Bay.

The flag was white, and they had been holding it in the unlikely case they received an offer that compelled them to surrender the season and make a full turn toward the future.

Kelly Oubre Jr., the subject of several trade discussions, remains the starting shooting guard.

Kevon Looney, mentioned in conversation regarding possible trades, stays on as perhaps the team’s most reliable reserve.

Why? The Warriors still have their eyes on the postseason and continue to believe they can make a run at the No. 6 playoff seed. Though they’ve shown nothing to indicate they’re good enough to be considered a legitimate championship threat, there is value in being present in the second season, aka the money hunt.

Losing Oubre and Looney for future considerations would have damaged this season and left the Warriors scrambling any door to the playoffs. That’s not their competitive DNA.

It’s not in their best financial interests, either, with the possibility of fans returning to Chase Center in limited capacity as soon as next month and almost certainly before the playoffs begin in the third week of May. Can you smell the revenue?

The Warriors indeed had trade offers, according to league sources, but none was compelling enough to move Oubre or Looney or anyone else capable of contributing this season. They thanked Brad Wanamaker for his 34 games and sent him to Charlotte. They thanked Marquese Chriss for his commitment to rehab and likely told him they’d be in touch after the season.

 

Wanamaker fell out of the rotation on merit, and Chriss could miss the season after sustaining a leg injury that required surgery in December. Their departure gives the Warriors two roster spots and, for now, a payroll trim -- two positive and significant factors.

But their current rotation is unaffected. Assuming Steph Curry returns ahead of their next road trip, April 1-4 in the Eastern Conference, the Warriors will have 25 games to get themselves comfortably above .500.

Without Oubre, even if they were to acquire a veteran, such as Danny Green in return, the odds would tip against the Warriors. Without Oubre and Looney, the odds would stack against them.

With their rotation intact, the Warriors can realistically visualize NBA playoffs returning to the Bay Area after a one-year hiatus. To miss one year is painful, but missing two in a row would be excruciating for a franchise that places such a high value on perception and legacy.

Why take a chance at this time?

No matter the postseason results -- assuming no catastrophic injury -- the Warriors could feel good about their chances next season. Klay Thompson returns. James Wiseman and Jordan Poole, both considered integral to future plans, will have gained experience at the league’s highest level. Andrew Wiggins will have gone through the crucible with teammates that have reached the top. 

And they still could have a lottery pick from the Wiggins acquisition from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Barring any bizarre occurrences in the coming weeks, Looney almost certainly will exercise his option and return for the final season of his contract. A veteran big is a must for their roster.

RELATED: NBA trade deadline winners and losers: No help for Steph

Oubre, being an unrestricted free agent, is another matter. But his continued presence on the roster means he and the Warriors will have had an additional two months to evaluate their compatibility and decide whether they’d like to stay together.

So, the trade deadline came and went without grand statement. Oubre and Looney were not going anywhere unless a prized future asset was coming back. Didn’t happen.

The Warriors played it conservatively. If they like where they are in the standings at the end of the regular season, they will have played it right. If they don’t, they’ll have a few months to know regret.

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