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Trading Oubre now would suggest Dubs pivoting toward future

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Kelly Oubre Jr. was born in New Orleans. Grew up there. Still considers it home. Maybe he wouldn’t mind if the Warriors sent him back to the Big Easy in the coming days.

There have been discussions between the Warriors and the New Orleans Pelicans, according to a report in The Athletic. The principles: Oubre goes to New Orleans, with Lonzo Ball and/or J.J. Redick coming to the Bay Area.

The deal only makes sense for the Warriors if they have decided to limit their ambition for this season, considering it little more than a training ground or a launching pad for next season.

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr has consistently talked of the need for the Warriors become a top-10 defensive team. Consistent defense is vital to their success, he said as recently as Monday night.

“We have to be a defensive-minded team,” Kerr said, “if we’re going to be any good.”

Oubre’s defense is the primary reason he was so appealing to the Warriors in the wake of losing Klay Thompson to a season-ending torn Achilles tendon in November. Their need for a strong point-of-attack defender to pester point guards and wings led them to Oubre, at a steep price -- particularly considering he will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

 

If obtaining Oubre was an expensive endeavor to compete this season, trading him two months later for Ball and Redick -- both inferior defenders, though Ball is decent -- is a move that clearly looks to 2021-22.

Redick, 36, will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. Among the best 3-point shooters in the NBA for most of his career, he has spent this season struggling to find his groove, shooting 30.0 percent from deep and 33.3 percent overall -- both well beneath his career totals.

If the Warriors see Redick coming off the bench for 15 or so minutes per game to space the floor and light up the scoreboard -- a role similar to late-career Jamal Crawford -- adding him is a plus. Redick, making $13 million this season, would have to accept a salary cut in 2021-22.

RELATED: Grading five potential Warriors-Pels trades involving Oubre

If this deal should materialize, the key would be Ball. He’s an exquisite passer and he would have such exquisite toys in Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins and Thompson. In such a setup, Curry would play off the ball, Klay would slide to small forward, with Wiggins to power forward.

With Draymond Green sliding into the middle, it’s a lineup built for speed -- a knock-off version of the team’s fabled Death Lineup.

In 2021-22, that is. Trading Oubre, the primary point-of-attack defender, five or six weeks into the season can’t possibly be about this year.