Could the Kelly Oubre Era really already be coming to an end for the Warriors?
The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Tuesday that "the Warriors and [New Orleans] Pelicans discussed a potential deal involving Kelly Oubre Jr." His report also stated that "there isn’t traction as of yet," and KRON4's Jason Dumas reported "it’s likely that is was the Pelicans who reached out to the Warriors," not the other way around.
If the two sides do further talk on an Oubre trade, who might the Warriors seek in return? The Pelicans are listening to offers on Lonzo Ball and J.J. Redick, Charania reported, and the oldest of the three Ball brothers could be an intriguing fit for the Warriors.
Ball will be a restricted free agent after this season. Oubre is set to be an unrestricted free agent on the open market this summer. The Warriors could match any offer for Ball, giving them a head start on bringing back a young player instead of losing Oubre for nothing.
Let's be frank: Ball obviously hasn't lived up to expectations as a former No. 2 overall draft pick. He only has averaged 10.8 points per game through his first four seasons and continues to struggle with his jump shot while working on fixing the form of what was a broken jumper when he came into the league. Ball was thrown into a bad situation with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he has been far from a star in New Orleans.
However, it's far too soon to give up on Ball, who still is only 23 years old.
When it comes to the Warriors deciding on a possible trade for Ball, they have to wonder which version they're getting: The pre-NBA bubble one or the one who has continued to struggle this season?
Ball is averaging a career-high 12.0 points per game this season. At the same time, he's shooting a career-low 29.1 percent from 3-point range. His assists per game are down from 7.0 to just 4.7 and his rebounds averages have dropped from 6.1 to 3.8. That's just one side to Ball's story.
Over a 16-game stretch last season before the Pelicans entered the Orlando bubble, he finally looked like the player many envisioned in the 2017 NBA Draft. From Jan. 31 through March 8, Ball averaged 14.1 points, 7.9 assists, 7.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. The best part was he looked like a competent shooter. Ball shot 45.7 percent from 3-point range and 64.7 percent from the free-throw line, which is much better than his career average of 49.3.
He then averaged 7.1 points, 6.6 assists and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 28.1 percent on 3s and 55.6 from the free-throw line over seven games in the bubble.
The Warriors have taken on countless reclamation projects under Steve Kerr, with a nearly perfect success rate. Just look at Andrew Wiggins this season. Nobody needed a change of scenery more than the former No. 1 overall pick. Wiggins, 25, has completely changed his career this year with the Warriors, turning into a two-way force.
Adding Ball and subtracting Oubre could then turn Damion Lee into the Warriors' starting shooting guard, giving Golden State another 3-point option with Steph Curry. Lee is shooting 40 percent from 3-point range but is averaging just 18.2 minutes per game. He has proven time and time again he deserves more minutes.
Ball then could lead the Warriors' second unit as a smart passer and good defender, plus he brings length to the group at 6-foot-6. This would give the Warriors a younger version of what Shaun Livingston was for them off the bench, something they have been searching for the past two seasons.
There's no arguing Ball has his skeptics and understandably so. Getting him in the Warriors' culture with Kerr, Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and many others could be the exact medicine he needs in his career right now. This is a young player who has NBA skills and size, and has dealt with a roller coaster start to his career.
Settling into easier waters in the Bay Area might be exactly what Ball needs. It might even be what the Warriors need, too.