Kelly Oubre

Pacific Notes: Clippers, Batum, Hield, Suns, Warriors

In a fascinating, in-depth article for The Athletic, Jovan Buha takes a deep dive into the chemistry issues that plagued the Clippers during the 2019/20 season, exploring the club’s leadership void and various players’ grievances with the preferential treatment that star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George received.

While Buha and others have reported about the Clippers’ locker room issues throughout the year, the latest Athletic story includes more specific details, including many of the perks provided to Leonard and George that irked teammates and compromised the positive culture that players bought into during the previous two seasons.

According to Buha, the two stars had power over the Clippers’ practice and travel schedule. Additionally, teammates believed Leonard and George were allowed to pick and choose when they played (not just sitting out games, but manipulating their playing time within games).

There are too many specific stories and details in Buha’s report to pass along all of them, but the upshot is that the Clippers are hoping new head coach Tyronn Lue – with the help of new roster additions like Serge Ibaka – will be able to address many of those issues, putting a greater emphasis on accountability. Sources tell The Athletic that players are excited to play for Lue and that Leonard and George are aware they must “establish a healthier locker room dynamic” in 2020/21.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

Pacific Notes: Harrell, Zubac, Oubre, Kings

Montrezl Harrell decided to sign with the Lakers because he wasn’t convinced the Clippers wanted to keep him, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Speaking to the media for the first time since accepting a two-year, $19MM offer to change teams, Harrell indicated that he would have remained with the Clippers if he believed they were interested.

“I feel that if you spend your career in any place long enough, you’re going to want to still keep playing there and keep growing there,” he said. “So, of course I still have great respect for those guys and for that organization. But like I said, as far as they wanted me back, obviously it doesn’t seem that way, does it?”

The new deal for the reigning Sixth Man of the Year contains a player option for 2021/22 that could have him back on the market in July. Some observers have suggested his connection to Klutch Sports prompted him to join fellow clients LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but Harrell said that wasn’t a factor.

“As far as my decision, it didn’t have any effect, because at the end of the day, my decision doesn’t affect neither one of those guys’ lives as far as their living conditions,” he said. “I have a family I have to provide for, so my decision was my decision.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Any further roster upgrades for the Clippers may have to come through trades, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times, who identifies Ivica Zubac, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams as their best assets. A rival executive tells Greif that Zubac would likely bring the greatest return because he’s only 23 and can still develop his game. Zubac is under contract for three more seasons at a total of $21MM. Williams, who is in the final year of his deal at $8MM, may have limited trade value because of his age and defensive liabilities. Executives who Greif spoke to believe it would be difficult to unload Beverley’s contract, which pays him $27MM over the next two seasons, and the Clippers would likely have to attach draft picks to move him.
  • After being traded from Phoenix to the Warriors, Kelly Oubre appeared to take a shot at Suns owner Robert Sarver, notes Nick Friedell of ESPN“I can play for an owner — somebody who actually cares about the organization and not just the perception of the organization on the media end of it,” Oubre said in a radio interview.
  • New Kings general manager Monte McNair looked for versatile players in the draft and tried to alter the roster to better fit De’Aaron Fox‘s timeline, writes Greg Wissinger of The Sacramento Bee. That’s why he pursued 25-year-old Wesley Iwundu and 26-year-old Willy Hernangomez, although both signed with other teams.

Pacific Notes: Hield, Oubre, Crowder, Oturu

The Kings only have two options now on Bogdan Bogdanovic: either they let him walk for nothing or they match Atlanta’s four-year, $72MM offer sheet.

While the Kings no longer have the opportunity to extract any assets in a Bogdanovic sign-and-trade, the team might be able to salvage some value by matching Bogdanovic’s offer and then trading Buddy Hield, opines Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. However, as Anderson writes, conversations with people around the league suggest there are mixed opinions on Hield’s trade value.

One of Anderson’s sources referred to Hield as untradeable, while another said that there are likely multiple teams that value the sharpshooter, adding that the Kings would probably seek “a good young player or players and draft picks.”

While I don’t agree that Hield is untradeable, I expect it would be difficult for the Kings to extract fair value for one of the NBA’s best shooters if they match on Bogdanovic. Potential trade suitors know that Hield would probably welcome a change of scenery and that the Kings likely don’t want to pay both players long term, limiting the team’s leverage.

Here are a few more items from around the West:

  • New Warriors wing Kelly Oubre Jr. anticipates being able to contribute his energetic scoring and defense to a team in desperate need of his help on the wing, as he told David Aldridge of The Athletic in a recent interview. “They have a lot of weapons, of course, but I’m also a weapon, on offense and defense,” Oubre said. “I feel I can kind of bring that flux of just lucid, position-less basketball back to the organization. I can guard one through five.” Oubre, an unrestricted free agent in 2021, was brought in using a portion of the Warriors’ $17MM trade exception to help replace Klay Thompson, who will miss his second consecutive season due to injury, this time with a torn Achilles.
  • Jae Crowder will be instrumental in helping the new-look Suns make a concerted playoff push, as Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic details. Signed to a three-year, $30MM contract, Crowder will essentially replace Oubre as a sharp-shooting, switchable defensive wing.
  • The Clippers will almost certainly be limited to offering Daniel Oturu a two-year, minimum-salary contract, since they don’t have the mid-level exception available and will want his cap hit to come in at the rookie minimum, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic. Hollinger wonders if Oturu’s agent might try to squeeze the Clippers by asking for a second-year player option on that deal.

Alex Kirschenbaum contributed to this post.

Thunder Complete Trade Sending Kelly Oubre To Warriors

NOVEMBER 22, 2:43pm: Erik Horne of The Athletic confirms (via Twitter) that the Warriors’ first-round pick headed to Oklahoma City will be top-20 protected. If it doesn’t convey, per Horne, the Thunder will instead receive Minnesota’s 2021 second-round pick (along with the Nuggets’ 2021 second-rounder, which they’ll get either way).

NOVEMBER 22, 2:27pm: The trade is now official, the Thunder announced in a press release. Oubre is headed to Golden State in exchange for the Warriors’ protected 2021 first-round pick and Denver’s 2021 second-round pick, per the team.

NOVEMBER 19, 8:10pm: The Thunder and Warriors are finalizing a swap that will send Oubre to Golden State in exchange for the Warriors’ protected 2021 first-round pick, reports Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets that it has top-20 protection.

The Thunder will create a trade exception worth Oubre’s $14.4MM salary, assuming they intend to remain over the cap as they complete their offseason moves.

NOVEMBER 19, 3:55pm: The Thunder are engaged in serious talks about a trade that would send Kelly Oubre to the Warriors, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The two sides are nearing an agreement, adds Adrian Wojnarowsi of ESPN (Twitter link).

It remains to be seen what the Thunder would acquire in a deal involving Oubre, but it’s a safe bet that GM Sam Presti would be looking to add at least one more future draft pick to his constantly-growing collection of them.

A deal sending Oubre to Golden State would almost certainly see the Warriors absorb his $14.4MM salary using the team’s $17.2MM trade exception. That exception allows the Dubs to acquire up to $17.2MM in salary without sending out any salary themselves.

Although a trade along these lines has long been the subject of speculation, it’s still a little surprising that the Warriors are willing to take on the increased tax bill that adding Oubre’s salary would create. As Bobby Marks of ESPN explains (via Twitter), based on current projections, Oubre would increase Golden State’s projected tax payment by about $68MM, resulting in a total increase of over $82MM after taking into account his actual salary.

The Warriors would likely get a bit of a break on that, since the NBA has said tax penalties will be reduced by the same amount that the league falls short of its revenue projection in 2020/21, but it’s still a massive commitment by the franchise.

However, Warriors ownership has exhibited a willingness to spend, and Oubre – who turns 25 next month – is a logical addition for a team that needed help on the wing even before word broke that Klay Thompson had suffered a torn Achilles.

In 2019/20, Oubre averaged a career-high 18.7 PPG in 56 games (34.5 MPG) for the Suns, chipping in 6.4 RPG and 1.3 SPG with a .453/.352/.780 shooting line. Phoenix, recognizing he wasn’t part of the team’s long-term plans, sent him to Oklahoma City in the Chris Paul blockbuster earlier this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

All-Star Guard Chris Paul Traded To Suns

8:07pm: The trade is official, per a Suns press release.

12:11pm:  The Suns and Thunder are finalizing an agreement on a trade that will send All-Star point guard Chris Paul from Oklahoma City to Phoenix, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), the Thunder will receive Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, and draft compensation in the deal. Wojnarowski adds that the Suns will also get Abdel Nader in the blockbuster swap (Twitter link).

The draft pick being sent from Phoenix to Oklahoma City in the trade is the Suns’ 2022 first-rounder, per Wojnarowski. Charania reports (via Twitter) that the pick will be top-12 protected. If it doesn’t change hands in 2022, it’ll be top-10 protected in 2023, top-eight protected in 2024, and unprotected in 2025.

The Suns, whose interest in Paul was first reported last week, are hoping that the veteran guard can help the team build upon its 8-0 showing during the Orlando restart and make the postseason in 2020/21. Paul, who will reunite with his former Pelicans coach Monty Williams, will join an intriguing core that includes star guard Devin Booker, former No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton, and promising young wings Cameron Johnson and Mikal Bridges.

While bigger-market teams (like the Knicks) and stronger contenders (including the Bucks) were cited in recent weeks as potential suitors for CP3, the 35-year-old won’t object to joining the Suns. The Thunder worked with Paul and his reps at CAA to get him to a preferred destination, per Woj (Twitter link). A report last week suggested that Phoenix’s proximity to Los Angeles appealed to Paul, who has a home in the L.A. area.

Phoenix will complete the trade without using the No. 10 pick in this year’s draft, so the club will have the opportunity on Wednesday to add another young prospect to that group. The Suns also have a couple different directions they could go in free agency.

Remaining over the cap and attempting to bring back Dario Saric and Aron Baynes is one option for the organization — the other would be to let those free agents go to open up cap room, then using up that space before officially finalizing the deal for CP3. In that scenario, Phoenix would only have the $4.8MM room exception left over, whereas if the team remains over the cap, the mid-level ($9.3MM) and bi-annual ($3.6MM) could be in play.

Meanwhile, the Thunder appear to be shifting into full-fledged rebuilding mode after outperforming expectations in 2019/20. They’ve now reached deals to move both Paul and Dennis Schröder. Steven Adams remains a trade candidate, as are the veterans Oklahoma City will receive in the two agreed-upon trades (Rubio, Oubre, and Danny Green).

Having acquired a pair of first-round picks and two future pick swaps in last year’s Paul/Russell Westbrook trade, the Thunder were able to parlay CP3’s strong season (17.6 PPG, 6.7 APG, 5.0 RPG) into yet another first-round selection. The franchise now owns three 2022 first-rounders and holds multiple first-round picks every year through 2026, as Tommy Beer of Forbes details (via Twitter).

By taking on Paul’s contract, the Suns will be on the hook for his $41.4MM salary in 2020/21 and his $44.2MM player option for ’21/22. Nader has a minimum salary for ’20/21 which will remain non-guaranteed even after his team option is exercised to complete this trade.

As for the Thunder, they’ll take on Oubre’s expiring $14.4MM salary and will be on the hook for $34.8MM over two years for Rubio. Jerome, who has a $2.3MM cap charge in 2020/21, is in the second year of a rookie scale contract, while Lecque has a guaranteed $1.5MM salary for ’20/21 and a non-guaranteed $1.8MM for ’21/22.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Westbrook, Hornets, Holiday, Gordon

The first major domino of the NBA offseason has fallen, as the Thunder and Suns are set to finalize a deal that will send All-Star guard Chris Paul to Phoenix.

Kelly Oubre is one of the key pieces headed to Oklahoma City in that swap, and according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7FM (Twitter link), the Suns felt as if Oubre was expendable not only due to the emergence of Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson, but because they didn’t think they’d end up re-signing Oubre in free agency in 2021.

Meanwhile, while Paul is on board with being dealt to the Suns, Marc Berman of The New York Post hears that CP3’s top preference would have been a move to the Clippers. The veteran point guard had “mixed feelings” about a possible deal to the Knicks, Berman adds.

As we wait for more trade agreements to be reached, here are a few of the latest rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Hornets appear to be the most likely landing spot for Russell Westbrook, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who writes that team owner Michael Jordan wants to acquire the former MVP. However, sources tell O’Connor that Charlotte won’t put the No. 3 overall pick on the table in an offer to the Rockets.
  • The Mavericks aren’t involved in the Jrue Holiday sweepstakes for now, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, who tweets that the Pelicans prefer to trade Holiday to an Eastern Conference team. Mike Singer of The Denver Post notes (via Twitter) that New Orleans’ apparent desire to send Holiday to the East might be posturing to try to drive up the price for a team like the Nuggets.
  • Asked today about trade rumors involving Aaron Gordon, Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman confirmed there have been “a lot of calls” on the forward (Twitter link via Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel). However, he added that there’s an “amazing amount of misinformation that circulates and is unfounded.” A report last week suggested Orlando was trying to move up in the draft from No. 15 by attaching Gordon to the pick.
  • In case you missed it, James Harden is rumored to be seeking a trade out of Houston.

Latest On Chris Paul/Suns Rumors

After co-authoring a Tuesday report revealing that the Suns and Thunder have discussed a potential Chris Paul trade, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst appeared on The Drive with Jody Oehler on FOX Sports 910 Phoenix on Wednesday morning to go into more detail on the possibility of a CP3 deal between the two Western clubs.

According to Windhorst, the Thunder have given Paul permission to talk to the Suns, which suggests that Oklahoma City is unlikely to complete a trade with Phoenix unless the veteran point guard is comfortable with it. And Windhorst does believe that CP3 has interest in becoming a Sun, pointing out that Phoenix’s proximity to Los Angeles – where Paul has a home – helps give the team a leg up.

Pressed to place odds on the two teams finalizing a trade, Windhorst told Oehler that he thinks the Suns and Thunder have better than a “50-50” chance to work something out.

Here’s more on the rumors connecting Paul to the Suns:

  • John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) wouldn’t expect the Suns to include the No. 10 pick in any offer for Paul. He adds that Phoenix may have to take advantage of its cap flexibility to complete a deal, noting that Frank Kaminsky and Aron Baynes aren’t expected to return to the team, which will free up some space (Twitter link).
  • Gambadoro has also heard that the Thunder don’t want to take back any multiyear contracts, which would make a trade difficult, since Ricky Rubio almost certainly has to be included for salary-matching purposes (Twitter link). Oklahoma City doesn’t have real interest in Rubio – who has two years and $34.8MM left on his deal – or Kelly Oubre, per Gambadoro. That doesn’t mean a deal is impossible, but it means the Thunder and Suns could be motivated to try to get a third team involved.
  • Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic weighs the pros and cons of acquiring Paul from the Suns’ perspective.

Suns Pondering Trade For Chris Paul

The Suns have had discussions about acquiring Chris Paul from the Thunder, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps.

Talks between the parties have gained traction but there is no deal imminent, according to the ESPN duo. A moratorium on trades remains in place until next week.

Phoenix’s interest in the 35-year-old point guard is somewhat surprising, considering it already has a veteran point guard in Ricky Rubio playing alongside franchise player Devin Booker. Rubio has two years and $34.8MM remaining on his contract.

Phoenix’s interest in Paul shows how badly it wants to end its long playoff drought. The Suns have gone 10 seasons without reaching the postseason.

Paul has a $41.4MM salary on the books for next season with a $44.2MM player option for the 2021/22 campaign. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, Phoenix would have to cobble together at least $33.05MM in outgoing salary – if acting as an over-the-cap team – to make a trade happen. Rubio’s contract, plus Kelly Oubre‘s $14.4MM expiring contract, would put the Suns close to that figure.

In terms of 2020 draft capital, the Suns own the No. 10 overall selection while the Thunder sit at No. 25.

The Thunder front office has given star players input on possible trade destinations in the past and presumably are extending Paul the same courtesy. Paul played the 2010/11 season under Suns coach Monty Williams in New Orleans.

Depending on the structure of a trade, the Suns could still have significant cap space — somewhere in the $20MM range — to pursue free agents.

Warriors Notes: Wiseman, Oubre, Luxury Tax, Draft

Memphis coach Penny Hardaway believes James Wiseman would be a “spectacular” fit for the Warriors, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. The Warriors own the No. 2 overall selection behind the Timberwolves. Wiseman played only three games for Hardaway last season due to NCAA sanctions imposed over Hardaway’s monetary contributions to Wiseman’s family when he was in high school. “He’d instantly be one of the better rim runners in the league. He’s also a rim protector; he is going to protect the rim,” Hardaway said. “His skill set is good enough now, and it’s going to get better. … In their system, with those guys, he would be spectacular.”

We have more on the Warriors:

  • Suns wing Kelly Oubre Jr. appears to be a trade target, Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. ESPN’s Nick Friedell recently said on “The Jump” that Oubre’s name keeps “popping up” in the trade buzz around the league and notes Golden State has a $17.2MM trade exception to absorb his contract. Oubre has an expiring $14.4MM contract and that makes it unlikely the Warriors would include the No. 2 pick in any proposals, Schrock adds.
  • Deciding on whether to use that trade exception and pay the additional luxury tax associated with bringing in another hefty contract is one of the Warriors’ major offseason questions, Anthony Slater of The Athletic notes. The other major consideration is determining the value of their lottery selection and what kind of player or package they’d need to get in return for the pick.
  • The Warriors are expected to have another meeting with guard prospect LaMelo Ball next week. Get the details here.

Pacific Notes: Green, Ayton, Oubre, Lue

Lakers guard Danny Green is confident the team is capable of repeating as NBA champions during the 2020/21 season, Adam Zagoria of writes. 

Los Angeles is coming off its first championship since 2010 with superstar performances from LeBron James and Anthony Davis, plus noteworthy production from rotation players such as Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso.

“For sure, I think we can definitely get one more for sure,” Green said. “It’s going to be tough because we have so many free agents, with 10 guys that are free agents. Trying to bring everybody back and reconstruct the contracts, it’s going to be difficult, but when you have the nucleus of LeBron and AD — if they bring back AD — that’s pretty much what you need. You don’t need much else around them.”

Among the players set to enter unrestricted free agency are Howard and Markieff Morris, with Rondo and Caldwell-Pope expected to decline their player options and do the same. The others include Davis (who’s expected to re-sign), JaVale McGee ($4.2MM player option), Dion Waiters, J.R. Smith and Jared Dudley. Avery Bradley holds a $5MM player option for next season.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division tonight:

  • Suns center Deandre Ayton could prove to be the ultimate difference-maker for the team next season and beyond, Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writes. Ayton, who turned 22 in July, averaged 18.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 38 games last season. He was the team’s No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft.
  • Rankin examines five potential trade destinations for Kelly Oubre Jr. in a separate article for The Arizona Republic. Oubre, who’s on an expiring contract for 2020/21, could be used in trade conversations going forward — much like he was around the trade deadline last February. Oubre averaged a career-high 18.7 points per game on 45% shooting this past season.
  • Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times examines how the Clippers are relying on Tyronn Lue‘s ‘Midas touch’ going forward. Lue, who is highly respected by players and officials across the league, was recently promoted to head coach with the team after serving as an assistant last season. “I’ve never found anyone that doesn’t just rave about Ty Lue the person,” one league executive told Greif.