The Golden State Warriors are a team that wants to win this season, but expects to win next season when Klay Thompson will hopefully return at or near his old form. As such, their approach to the March 25 trade deadline won't be angled at a short-term rental. Anyone they pursue will be a player they potentially see as part of their future plans, and one trade candidate to keep an eye on is Rockets guard Victor Oladipo.
The Warriors have interest in acquiring Oladipo, according to The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor in his latest Power Rankings. Oladipo recently turned down Houston's two-year, $45.2 million extension and will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Warriors won't have cap space to sign Oladipo, or any non-mid-level free agent not currently on their roster, in the offseason, meaning their best route is to trade for one now and then use Bird rights to re-sign that player as an over-the-cap team.
Oladipo does make sense for the Warriors, who would really benefit from an upgraded secondary shot creator and perimeter defender -- roles now occupied by Kelly Oubre and Andrew Wiggins. Oubre, on an expiring contract, could potentially be the financial foundation of an Oladipo trade package. A deal for Oubre, Brad Wanamaker and Jordan Poole works as far as the money side, but Houston would likely want a future draft pick, of which the Warriors are in short supply. From O'Connor:
Houston can't demand too much in a deal given Oladipo has underwhelmed and will become an unrestricted free agent. Plus, Golden State wouldn't have a whole lot to offer. Because of picks owed elsewhere, the Warriors are able to deal up to just two first-round picks: one from 2021 (via Minnesota) or 2022, and one from 2026 or 2027.
The other option would be to put Wiggins in the deal. In that scenario, Golden State could potentially bring back Oladipo and P.J. Tucker. If Houston values Wiggins, who has played well for Golden State this season, that could be a wise move for a team trying to rebuild around youth with Wiggins still just 26 years old and under team control through 2023 -- albeit at a salary that, even with his improved play, is still probably considered a negative asset by most teams.
One way or another, the Warriors need another major contributor to truly get back into the championship chase next season. The return of Klay Thompson, off an Achilles and ACL tear, almost certainly won't be enough on its own. The Warriors can -- if they really want to get aggressive -- put together a massive trade proposal centered on James Wiseman and Minnesota's top-three protected 2021 first-round pick, which would put them in the market for much bigger haul than what Oladipo would require. Bradley Beal would seemingly be at the top of that list should Golden State choose to mortgage its biggest future assets and the Wizards make him available.
However, if the Warriors want to play it both ways, which is to say upgrade their roster without compromising their future in Wiseman and the Minnesota pick, a player like Oladipo seemingly fits the bill. Truth be told, there's a good chance Golden State parts ways with Oubre this summer anyway. In that scenario, if they could flip Oubre for Oladipo, they could use the remainder of this season to evaluate Oladipo's production and fit with the potential for, but not any commitment to, a long-term partnership.
If Oladipo returns to his All-Star form, which would seem a reasonable possibility playing in that Golden State system next to Stephen Curry, then the Warriors have a legit Big 4 in Curry, Thompson, Oladipo and Draymond Green, with the latter three bringing the type of defensive prowess that served as the backbone of Golden State's championships.
If, on the other hand, Oladipo just doesn't look like he's ever going to be the same player, or if he proves to simply be too expensive to justify keeping, the Warriors, really, are only out Oubre or Wiggins and perhaps a future pick -- which, again, wouldn't factor in until 2026, as there's no way the Minnesota pick would be included in an Oladipo deal. Bottom line: That's not a ton of risk for the potential reward of an optimized Oladipo for the rest of this season and potentially next to Curry, Green and Thompson for the long haul.