The Warriors have indicated for months that they would use their traded-player exception, worth $17.2 million in salary and much more in luxury tax, only on a player they were convinced would make a significant impact on winning.
From a tool-kit perspective, the Warriors in seeking to fill at least some of the void created by Klay Thompson’s season-ending torn Achilles’ tendon could not reasonably have done better than they did Thursday in closing in on acquiring small forward Kelly Oubre Jr. from the Thunder.
“We got this news and we found ourselves with a hole at a position that we can’t find many better guys to fill than a Klay Thompson,” president/general manager Bob Myers said Thursday afternoon, already deep into negotiations with OKC.
In short, Myers was hard on the pursuit of Oubre within hours of Thompson undergoing an MRI exam that confirmed the early fears.
Oubre, 24, doesn’t exactly replace Klay’s absurd shooting ability – as if that were possible – but in most every other area, he matches or exceeds the five-time NBA All-Star. It’s a good get, particularly considering the Warriors offering of a heavily protected 2021 first-round pick, which more likely will be two second-round picks, according to a league source.
No one currently on the roster brings as many tools at such high levels. Oubre, at 6-foot-7, 210 pounds, brings the athleticism craved by coach Steve Kerr on the wings and also an acceptable 3-point shot, as implied by his 35.2 percent mark last season with the Suns. That he twice drained seven triples in a game is rather Klay-like.
Oubre defends at a very high level, partly because of his athleticism and partly because he takes immense pride in it, even telling reporters in Phoenix last year of his desire for that to be noticed.
“I’m a defensive-minded first player,” Oubre said. “I take pride in being a two-way athlete. Just not somebody who is a one-dimensional player. So, defense is my first bread and butter that got me where I am today. … I’m just going to continue to hone in on that and try to be the best defender I can. My goal is definitely first-team All-Defense multiple times in my career, Defensive Player Of The Year, stuff like that.”
Oubre posted three 15-rebound games last season. He’s utterly fearless, occasionally to the point of provocation.
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The Warriors didn’t replace Thompson’s shooting – as if that were possible – but Oubre is at least as good on defense and a much better rebounder.
The only concern is whether Oubre has outgrown the displays of immaturity – four fines, one suspension – resulting shown early in his career. The Warriors will rely on their fabled culture to moderate that, just as they did with Marquese Chriss, who came with a similar history.
The deal, according to a league source, could be completed Thursday night.