Kelly Oubre

Pacific Notes: Oubre, Dedmon, Lydon, Kawhi

As the last restricted free agent on the market this summer, Kelly Oubre may have preferred to resolve his free agency situation a little sooner. However, as Gina Mizell of The Athletic relays, Oubre – who didn’t have to wait until the fall to get a new deal like other RFAs have in recent years – had no complaints about the process after signing a new two-year, $30MM contract with the Suns.

“It was a little prolonged due to the things of the business,” Oubre said. “I was blessed enough to be able to watch it happen. Everything works out for people who put the right energy into the world. So I can’t really complain. It’s been a great two weeks.”

The Suns, meanwhile, made Oubre a priority this offseason due to the way he approaches the game, as general manager James Jones told reporters, including Mizell, this week.

“When you watch the games, you watch effort,” Jones said. “You watch the competitiveness. You watch the passion. That’s who you are. (Oubre) was consistent every game, every day. … Those are the foundational characteristics and traits that you look for in players when you talk about building a core, building a foundation.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Dewayne Dedmon‘s ability to shoot three-pointers and run the floor could help maximize the Kings‘ run-and-gun offense in 2019/20, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. For his part, Dedmon is looking forward to fitting into Sacramento’s system. “I had my free agency meeting with my agent and he broke everything down, talked about the teams and whatever, and Sac came with the best offer,” Dedmon said. “Best fit, best offer, everything was good, and it’s somewhere I can call home for the next three years, hopefully.”
  • Tyler Lydon‘s new two-year, minimum-salary contract with the Kings is only partially guaranteed for $50K in year one, tweets Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights. Given how little salary protection he has, the former first-round pick isn’t necessarily a lock to earn a regular season roster spot for Sacramento in 2019/10.
  • Nearly two weeks after Kawhi Leonard announced that he’d be joining the Clippers, Michael Lee of The Athletic looks back at the way Leonard wielded his power during the free agent process and the ripple effect the decision had on the Raptors, Lakers, and Thunder, among other teams.

Suns Re-Sign Kelly Oubre To Two-Year Deal

JULY 16: The Suns have officially re-signed Oubre, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 11: The Suns have reached an agreement with restricted free agent forward Kelly Oubre, agent Nima Namakian of BDA Sports tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Oubre, who had been the last unsigned RFA on the market, will sign a two-year, $30MM contract, per Wojnarowski. According to Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link), it’s a fully guaranteed deal with no options. It also has a descending structure, with a $15.7MM first-year salary, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7.

Oubre, 23, was selected 15th overall in the 2015 draft and spent the first three and a half years of his NBA career in Washington. The Wizards, who didn’t appear committed to paying him in free agency this summer, attempted to trade Oubre to Memphis in a three-team trade for Trevor Ariza last December, then pivoted when that deal fell through and sent him directly to Phoenix in a package for Ariza a few days later.

In 40 games (12 starts) with the Suns, Oubre posted some of the best numbers of his career, averaging 16.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 1.4 SPG with a .453 FG% in 29.5 minutes per contest. All of those marks would have been career highs.

As they completed their offseason roster moves, the Suns made it a priority to keep Oubre’s cap hold on their books in order to retain his Bird Rights and go over the cap to re-sign him, sending Josh Jackson, De’Anthony Melton, and a pair of second-round picks to Memphis in a trade to shed salary and avoid losing the former Wizard.

While Oubre may have been hoping for a longer-term commitment, his new two-year contract will give the young forward some financial security and allow him to return to the open market as an unrestricted free agent when he’s just 25 years old, Wojnarowski observes (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Kawhi, Bender, Cousins, Mejri

Despite some buzz on social media that Kawhi Leonard is leaning toward the Lakers, the reigning Finals MVP hasn’t reached a decision, tweets Cris Carter of Fox Sports 1. Carter – who has been an unexpectedly plugged-in source on Leonard since the forward’s days in San Antonio – adds that anyone thinking the Lakers have an edge on the Clippers or Raptors would be “wrong.”

Leonard is the last big star available in free agency, and his decision will have a long-lasting impact on all three franchises. Whichever club lands him will be a contender for the NBA title, while the other two teams will be scrambling to fill out their rosters. Leonard still hasn’t given any indication of when he plans to announce his choice.

Here are some more notes on the third day of free agency:

  • Now that the Suns have added Frank Kaminsky, they will part ways with Dragan Bender, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link). Bender had a disappointing three years in Phoenix after being selected with the fourth pick in the 2016 draft. He is an unrestricted free agent because the Suns declined his fourth-year option before the start of the season.
  • The Warriors can’t make an offer similar to the $6.4MM MLE that landed DeMarcus Cousins last summer, notes Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). Golden State is so close to the hard cap that it cannot go much above minimum deals to complete its roster.
  • Salah Mejri was working out today with the Mavericks‘ Summer League players and remains a possibility to re-sign, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.
  • As cap space dries up, restricted free agents such as Kelly Oubre, Delon Wright and Tyus Jones may benefit by accepting their teams’ qualifying offers and becoming unrestricted next summer in a weaker free agent class, suggests Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link).

Free Agency Rumors: Leonard, Oubre Jr, Looney, Bullock, Green

Former Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson had a positive conversation with star free agent Kawhi Leonard and his uncle Dennis Robertson on Sunday, Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times report.

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka reached out to Leonard at the start of free agency, according to the report, with Los Angeles focused on adding Leonard to a roster that already includes star players LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Leonard’s camp originally requested that the Lakers only send owner Jeanie Buss to any potential meeting, but the group is now considering adding Pelinka to the equation, according to Ganguli and Turner. It’s widely believed that the Clippers, Lakers and Raptors are the front-runners for his services.

Here are some other free agent rumors tonight:

Oubre, Wright, Finney-Smith, Kleber Receive QOs

With the qualifying offer deadline just a few days away, several more players have been tendered QOs by their respective teams, which will ensure that they become restricted free agents (rather than unrestricted) on the evening of June 30. Those players are as follows:

Oubre’s name is the most interesting one in the bunch. Wojnarowski suggests that the former Wizard will be a candidate for a significant offer sheet, especially from a team with cap room that misses out on a high-profile unrestricted free agent.

As long as Oubre remains on the Suns‘ books, he’ll carry a cap hit in the neighborhood of $9.63MM, which will cut into the club’s projected cap room. Once they acquire Aron Baynes and Dario Saric and move T.J. Warren, the Suns project to have about $14MM in cap space. That number would increase to about $23MM if Phoenix were to renounce Oubre.

Wright had a strong finish to the season for the Grizzlies after being acquired in the Marc Gasol trade at the deadline, averaging 12.2 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 5.3 APG in 26 games for Memphis. With Mike Conley headed to Utah, Wright could be re-signed to share point guard duties with No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant.

As for Finney-Smith and Kleber, the Mavericks view them as quality role players who will fit in well with franchise cornerstones Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, says MacMahon. Because both players have such modest cap holds, they won’t compromise the team’s flexibility on the open market.

Dallas could keep those holds on the team’s books and eventually go over the cap to re-sign Finney-Smith and Kleber to new deals. The Mavs have Bird rights for Finney-Smith and Early Bird rights for Kleber.

Pacific Notes: Curry, Suns, Kings, Oubre

For the first time since 2010/11, when a sophomore Stephen Curry shared a backcourt with Monta Ellis, the revolutionary Warriors guard will go into a season without Klay Thompson. Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic details just what’s in store for him and for the franchise heading forward.

Not only will Curry have to shoulder more of the scoring load without Thompson and Kevin Durant, two of the game’s deadliest offensive weapons, he’ll need to do so after everybody and their grandmother saw Raptors coach Nick Nurse employ a successful series of zones against the Warriors.

Those are new questions that Curry will have to answer, but they aren’t the first questions he’s ever faced. This, Thompson writes, isn’t the guard’s first gut-check offseason. Curry has established and re-established his value after injuries and previous Warriors titles and will look to do so again.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Expect the Suns to either keep their No. 6 pick or look to trade down in the draft, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 Phoenix tweets. The dialed-in radio host says that he can’t envision the team dealing that pick for players like Lonzo Ball, Mike Conley or Spencer Dinwiddie.
  • The Kings have announced that they’ll welcome another batch of prospects for a workout on Monday. The franchise that picks at 40, 47 and 60 will audition Shamorie Ponds, Jaylen Hands and a handful of other candidates.
  • Did Kelly Oubre do enough in his 40-game trial with the Suns this season? Bobby Marks of ESPN writes that Oubre played some of his best basketball in Phoenix after coming over from the Wizards and the Suns were wise to nab him when they did. Phoenix will have the flexibility match an offer sheet the restricted free agent lands and they’ll have his Bird rights.

Potential 2019 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s rookie scale, which determines how much first-round picks earn during their first four NBA seasons, also dictates how much the qualifying offers will be worth for those players when they reach restricted free agency after year four. However, the value of those qualifying offers can fluctuate depending on whether or not a player has met the “starter criteria.”

Here’s how the starter criteria works:

A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency.

A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games in 2016/17 and 32 in 2017/18, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons is 41.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

Extending a qualifying offer to a player eligible for restricted free agency officially makes that player an RFA, ensuring that his team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet with another club. It also gives the player the option of signing that one-year QO.

Generally, the value of a restricted free agent’s qualifying offer isn’t hugely important, since very few RFAs accept those offers outright. There are exceptions though.

Two years ago, for instance, both players who signed their one-year QOs – Suns center Alex Len and Mavericks center Nerlens Noel – failed to meet the starter criteria heading into restricted free agency, reducing the value of their QOs to approximately $4.2MM (from $6.4MM and $5.85MM, respectively). Had Len and Noel met the starter criteria and been eligible for those larger QOs, their free agencies could have played out differently.

Top-14 picks who failed to meet starter criteria:

With that in mind, let’s check in on how this year’s RFAs-to-be will be impacted by the starter criteria. Listed below are the former top-14 picks on track for restricted free agency who have not met the starter criteria. These players will be eligible for qualifying offers worth $4,485,665.

No player was hit harder by missing out on the starter criteria than Porzingis, who had no chance at meeting the playing-time requirements due to his torn ACL. If he’d stayed healthy, the former No. 4 overall pick would’ve been in line for a qualifying offer worth just over $7.5MM. Of course, it may not matter much, since Porzingis is expected to sign a long-term deal with the Mavericks anyway.

For Johnson, Kaminsky, and Lyles, falling short of the starter criteria was more about their roles than health issues.

First-round picks between 10-30 who met starter criteria:

Only one player falls into this group this season.

Because Oubre was selected between No. 10 and No. 30 in the 2015 draft and met the starter criteria, he’s eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,915,726 instead of $4,485,665. No other players fit the bill this year, as many of the players drafted between Nos. 10 and 30 in 2015 have either already been extended or are no longer on their rookie contracts.

Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the 23rd overall pick in 2015, was the strongest candidate to join Oubre in this group, but fell just short of meeting the criteria, having started 80 games over the last two seasons — he needed to get to 82. Wizards forward Bobby Portis, the 22nd overall pick, also would have had a shot if he stayed healthy, but injuries limited his minutes over the last two seasons.

Second-round picks and UDFAs who met starter criteria:

The players listed below signed as second-round picks or undrafted free agents, but have met the starter criteria and are now eligible for a qualifying offer worth $3,021,354.

Tomas Satoransky (Wizards) was another player who qualified for this group, but because his initial NBA contract was more lucrative than most, his qualifying offer will already be worth $3,911,484 based on other criteria.

There were a few second-round picks and UDFAs who just missed out on meeting the starter criteria, including Dorian Finney-Smith of the Mavericks (1,985 minutes played), Bulls guard Ryan Arcidiacono (1,961 minutes), and Clippers center Ivica Zubac (37 starts).

Those players, and the rest of this year’s restricted free agents, won’t have their projected qualifying offers impacted by the starter criteria.

Pacific Notes: Bell, Chase Center, Oubre, Kings

Following a one-game suspension for “conduct detrimental to the team,” Warriors big man Jordan Bell has apologized to the team and hopes to move on from the incident, ESPN’s Nick Friedell writes.

“I made an error of judgment,” Bell said to NBC Sports Bay Area. “And I thought I was doing something funny, and it wasn’t. But I apologized to the individuals involved, and I hope to continue to move forward from this mistake.”

The incident in question involved Bell making unauthorized charges to assistant coach Mike Brown’s hotel room, as Friedell confirms. While the nature of the incident reportedly stems from a rookie hazing Bell underwent himself, the Warriors are also concerned about Bell’s work ethic this season.

Check out more Pacific Division notes:

  • The Warriors are in the midst of building a new home arena, Chase Center, which is set to open later this season. However, the new venue has generated over $2 billion in revenue before it’s official opening, according to a Bloomberg report.
  • Suns wing Kelly Oubre has nothing but fond memories of his tenure with the Wizards in Washington, Josh Luckenbaugh of NBC Sports Washington writes. “It’s always love,” Oubre said. “D.C. fans have embraced me from day one, and I have nothing but love for them.” 
  • After Saturday’s loss to the Rockets, the Kings were officially eliminated from postseason contention. As Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee writes, the loss ended a promising season that generated plenty of optimism for the team’s future.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Subscription required) dives into the Kings‘ next moves, which includes key decisions on the long-term futures of Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein

Kelly Oubre Out For Rest Of Season

MARCH 22: The Suns have officially announced that Oubre underwent a procedure on his sprained left thumb, ruling him out for approximately four to six weeks.

MARCH 21: Suns forward Kelly Oubre is set to undergo a minor procedure on his left thumb, which will sideline him for the rest of the 2018/19 season, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The regular season will end in less than three weeks, and Oubre’s recovery projects to take about four to six weeks, per Wojnarowski.

Oubre will be a restricted free agent this summer and should be fully recovered well before he’s eligible to sign a new deal in July. As Wojnarowski observes, the 23-year-old’s play since arriving in Phoenix has also helped raise his stock as he prepares to enter free agency.

In 40 games for the Suns, Oubre has averaged 16.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 1.4 SPG in 29.5 minutes per contest. Since entering the starting lineup after the All-Star break, he has boosted those numbers to 20.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 2.1 SPG with a .469/.343/.750 shooting line in 12 games.

The Suns will have the right of first refusal on Oubre this offseason, assuming they issue him a qualifying offer, so they’d have the ability to match any offer sheet he signs. While Phoenix’s small forward spot is somewhat overcrowded, Oubre – who was acquired earlier this season in the swap that sent Trevor Ariza to D.C. – looks like a potential keeper.

With Oubre sidelined down the stretch and T.J. Warren still on the shelf too, Mikal Bridges and Josh Jackson should get the opportunity to play big minutes in Phoenix’s final 10 games.

Suns Notes: Morant, Oubre, Warren, Bender

Suns owner Robert Sarver and many of the team’s front office executives attended the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter links).

That’s noteworthy because they were taking a closer look at Murray State sophomore guard Ja Morant. Interim GM James Jones, assistant GM Trevor Buckstein, director of player personnel Bubba Burrage and director of basketball analytics Jake Loos were also in attendance.

Phoenix currently has the second-worst record in the league behind only the Knicks. Morant is ranked third on ESPN’s Top 100 prospect list and first among point guards, a position of major need for the Suns. He scored 36 points against Belmont in the OVC title game to carry the Racers into the NCAA Tournament.

We have more on the Suns:

  • Forward Kelly Oubre Jr. reached his starter criteria and is eligible for a $4.9MM qualifying offer, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. He met the criteria by averaging 2,000 minutes during the course of the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons. His cap hold of $9.6MM in the offseason remains the same, Marks adds. Oubre is averaging 16.1 PPG and 4.9 RPG in 28.8 MPG over 36 games since he was acquired from Washington.
  • It might be time for the Suns to shut down T.J. Warren, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. Warren missed his 19th consecutive game on Sunday due to right ankle soreness. The injury can be more accurately characterized as a bone bruise, Rankin notes. Coach Igor Kokoskov indicated no decision had been made on Warren’s season status. “I don’t have that answer,” he said. “My approach is whoever is available to play, I’m going to try to use and incorporate in the game plan and the rotation and try to see if he can help us win games.”
  • Power forward Dragan Bender has seen his minutes uptick in Warren’s absence, Rankin points out in the same piece. Bender has averaged 16.0 MPG in five March games, though he has posted a modest stat line of 3.6 PPG and 2.8 RPG. Bender, the fourth pick of the 2016 draft, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer after the club declined his fourth-year option prior to the start of the season.