The conversation surrounding Kelly Oubre's role with the Warriors has changed drastically over the last nine months.
When the Warriors initially acquired him from the Oklahoma City Thunder, it was viewed as a great reactionary move to losing Klay Thompson for another year. As the season kicked off, and Oubre's production was less than ideal, there were questions if he'd make it past the trade deadline. By February, he was one of the Warriors' most reliable scorers. Then, his season ended in April when he aggravated a formerly sprained wrist.
It can be agreed upon that despite the slow start and early end to his season, Oubre had a positive impact on the Warriors and they should want to keep him as he enters free agency this summer.
If he comes back to Golden State, and that is a big if, Oubre's role would be coming off the bench as the sixth man.
"Klay’s going to start when he gets back. So would Kelly be interested in coming off the bench? That’s a question only he can answer," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Monday in his end-of-season press conference. "So he’ll weigh his options, we’ll weigh ours and we’ll see where it all goes."
Earlier in the year, Oubre said he wasn't a bench player in this league, but that shouldn't directly be translated into "he's not coming back." Other factors will play into it as well, such as other teams' interest in him and how much money they -- and the Warriors -- will offer him. In order to retain Oubre, the Warriors would have to be willing to spend a high amount of salary and tax dollars.
If Oubre opts to stay with the Warriors, he would provide their second unit with a major boost. But not in the facilitator's way, ala Andre Iguodala. Oubre would be used more as an extra scoring punch and energy booster.
For the majority of this season, the Warriors struggled to find consistent scoring and leadership off the bench. Toward the end of the season, Jordan Poole took on that mantel. But before that, it was a revolving door of players.
After Oubre initially returned from his sprained wrist in mid-April, he came off the bench while Kent Bazemore started. In those five games, Oubre averaged 17 points per game while also giving an overall young second unit a steady veteran hand. While it was a small sample size, that is the kind of performance and impact that could be expected with Oubre coming off the bench.
If the Warriors feel like a new agreement with Oubre isn't going to happen, the best-case scenario for Golden State would be to complete a sign-and-trade, that is, if Oubre agreed to go to a team willing to do this. If it worked out, the Warriors would be able to retain Oubre's salary slot through a trade exception.
Should Oubre not be on the Warriors' roster next season, their bench won't be lost. As mentioned before, Golden State has found a reliable bench scorer in Poole.
However, with a big need for more experienced players to fill out their rotation, having a guy such as Oubre would check multiple boxes for the Warriors.