With the March 25th NBA trade deadline approaching quickly, the Warriors will be in a unique situation.
They must decide a course of action that could help them make a push for the playoffs this season, without sacrificing their greater goal of contending for a title next season.
To make matters more complicated, or simpler, depending on the view, the Warriors do not have many assets that are high in-demand expiring contracts -- with one exception: Kelly Oubre Jr.
Despite being a free agent, the Warriors have the rights to Oubre in the offseason, which allows them to go above the salary cap in order to sign him.
However, the further the Warriors go above the cap, the more their luxury tax bill grows. Signing Oubre in the offseason to a large deal would come at a much greater financial cost.
Nevertheless, if Joe Lacob and the ownership group are willing to invest a hefty sum of money in retaining Oubre without sacrificing any of their current stars, then trying to keep the young, athletic wing might be the best course of action.
How Oubre Jr.'s season unfolds the rest of the way may end up determining how much money he can demand on the open market. This season, he is making about $14 million, and it is safe to assume he will be able to receive an offer of at least that on a multi-year deal.
If he were able to land a deal that pays him $20 million a year, that might be more money than the Warriors are willing to spend (considering the tax bill that comes with it), knowing they owe over $120 million next season just to Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins.
Should the Warriors find that Oubre will most likely be too expensive for them to retain, the prudent move would be to trade him before the deadline, in hopes of obtaining assets that can extend beyond this season, in order to return to title contention. However, that could potentially cripple any chance of the Warriors making a playoff run this season.
Also most importantly, in the unlikely scenario that an NBA star becomes available and the Warriors have a chance to make the acquisition before the trade deadline, then all bets are off and Oubre Jr, as well as anyone not named Curry or Green, could be moveable.
Keeping Oubre this season, and re-signing him next, would maintain the athleticism they crave at the wing position, which will help especially on the defensive end. It is not yet known what Thompson will be immediately capable of when he returns from his two-year injury absence, so Oubre could be key in guarding opposing guards until Thompson is ready.
And on the offensive end, depending on the roster, Oubre could be a highly versatile sixth man, bringing energy and electricity to the team once the lineups shuffle during the games.
Oubre's season has been a rollercoaster ride. He got off to one of the worst starts in NBA history in regards to 3-point shooting, and seemingly could not fit into the Kerr offense that is built around movement, especially that of Steph Curry.
But Oubre did not give up in his pursuit to assimilate into the system, the coaching staff did not give up faith that he would eventually find his stride, and the front office never pulled the trigger to give up on the experiment by shipping him out.
And it paid off.
Oubre has become a key cog in the Warriors' highly rated defense, and his explosive ability to soar above the rim has been very valuable to the offense. He has started to find the perfect moments to cut to the hoop, and he not only found his shooting stroke from deep, he actually became one of the more consistent shooters on the team for a stretch.
It's clear that Oubre would be a positive player for the Warriors for the rest of this season and beyond, but at the end of the day everything will come down to dollars. If the Warriors are willing to keep Oubre and he wants to return, then that seems like the prudent move.