Kelly Oubre

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.

Kelly Oubre Wants To Remain With Suns Long-Term

Kelly Oubre Jr. will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season and while he’s only been in Phoenix for a few months, he’s sure that he wants to stick around long-term.

“Why would I go anywhere else?” Oubre said (via Kellan Olson of Arizona Sports) “I’m here, I’m getting established and I’m not a guy that really wants to be on a million teams in my tenure in the league and I just want to create a dynasty and a legacy here in Phoenix with [Deandre Ayton], [Devin Booker], [Mikal Bridges], all the guys in the locker room. It’s beautiful.”

The Suns have a ways to go in creating a dynasty. They own the second-worst record in the league, as our Reverse Standings show. Despite the lack of success, Oubre believes the team is improving and better days are coming.

“We’re learning from our mistakes that we’ve made in previous games and throughout the season and we’re starting to realize that we are definitely capable of competing with the best so we have to continue to go out there and prove that,” Oubre added. “We’re just trying to get some momentum going into next year.”

The Wizards sent Oubre to the Suns earlier this season in the Trevor Ariza deal, but hours before that, the former first-rounder was nearly dealt to the Grizzlies in a three-team trade that fell apart at the last minute.

“I’m just so happy that Phoenix, (GM James Jones) made the call and traded for me to come to Phoenix man because that was the biggest blessing of my career so far,” Oubre said. “…One-hundred percent I would love to remain Phoenix.”

Pacific Notes: Oubre, Shumpert, Lakers

After getting off to a very rough start, the Suns have started to turn things around, winning five of their past nine games. The recent success is mainly a result of strong play from their two franchise cornerstones Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, but Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype writes that Kelly Oubre‘s positive impact shouldn’t be overlooked.

As Kennedy points out, Oubre is averaging 14.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 threes and 1.0 blocks per game, while shooting 47.4 percent from three-point range since joining the Suns several weeks ago. Ayton and Booker have loved the energy and “swag” that Oubre has brought to the team and perhaps more importantly, Oubre fits with the team’s timeline as they continue on a rebuilding path.

The Suns are still evaluating what they have in some of their young players, but it’s safe to say that the team continues to show more promise as Booker and Ayton lead the way on a nightly basis.

There’s more from the Pacific division:

  • An afterthought when acquired back in February, Iman Shumpert has taken up a leadership role with the Kings this season as his play has improved. Jason Jones of The Athletic details the valuable presence that Shumpert has had for this young Kings team.
  • As a result of recent struggles in the face of LeBron James‘ injury, is it better for the Lakers to stay patient or make a win-now move? Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report tackles this challenging question.
  • Speaking of those struggles, Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register details the Lakers‘ inability to close out games with James not playing. A recent buzzer-beating loss to the Kings and fourth quarter unraveling against the Clippers highlighted the room for growth for the Lakers’ young core.

Pacific Notes: Oubre, Suns, West, Jordan

Kelly Oubre has no regrets from the three-plus years he spent with the Wizards, telling Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic“I gave everybody my all, man.” Oubre was traded to the Suns last week, but with the team on a road trip, he still hasn’t been to Phoenix. He made his return to Washington tonight and sounds like he’s not fully sold on the Wizards’ decision to unload him.

“I could go into theories of why (GM) Ernie (Grunfeld) and (VP of basketball operations) Tommy (Sheppard) did what they did, but at the end of the day, it’s not my job to,” Oubre said. “I’m on the business aspect of it and I’ve got to make home in Phoenix.”

Oubre was a victim of the salary structure in Washington. He will be a restricted free agent next summer and the team was concerned about being able to match a sizable offer because of luxury tax implications. Oubre is now part of the rebuilding process in Phoenix, which he doesn’t believe will need a long time to be successful.

“ It’s not necessarily age. I don’t really believe in age,” he said. “If your mind is strong enough, you can do anything, no matter how old you are.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Defense has sparked the Suns in their four-game winning streak, writes Cody Cunningham of NBA.com, which is ironic because the team just traded one of its best defenders in Trevor Ariza. Phoenix is allowing teams to shoot just 41.3% in those four games and became the first team in history to hold back-to-back opponents to 20% or worse from 3-point range.
  • The injury to Damian Jones accentuates the Warriors‘ loss of veteran big man David West, who retired after last season, writes Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. Golden State’s center rotation has fallen apart as Jordan Bell has been a disappointment and Kevon Looney hasn’t fit well with the reserves. The Warriors plan to give Draymond Green more minutes at center until DeMarcus Cousins is ready to return from his Achilles injury.
  • In an interview with Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register, Clippers coach Doc Rivers looks back on the day three years ago that a contingent from the team visited free agent center DeAndre Jordan to change his mind about signing with the Mavericks. “It was a weird day, but I think it was far weirder on the outside of the room than on the inside of the room,” Rivers said. “I mean, basically D.J. basically told us he was staying within five seconds.”

Suns Notes: Rivers, Oubre, Doncic, McDonough

Although initial reports suggested the Suns would likely release Austin Rivers without a buyout, the veteran guard ended up giving back $650K to the team when he was waived this week, per Gina Mizell of The Athletic (Twitter link). Rivers had been on a $12.65MM expiring deal, so he’ll still make $12MM in 2018/19 as a result of that contract, with Phoenix paying the majority of that money.

As cap expert Albert Nahmad details (via Twitter), Rivers should still come out ahead as long as it doesn’t take him long to finalize a new deal. If Rivers signs shortly after clearing waivers on Thursday, a minimum salary contract for the rest of the season would pay him about $1.2MM. He could tack on that figure to the $12MM he’s already earning on his previous deal, exceeding $13MM for the season.

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • Following last week’s failed three-team trade drama and an eventual move to Phoenix, Kelly Oubre spoke to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News about his new NBA home, suggesting that he’s “excited” about the change. Sources tell Deveney that Oubre drew interest from multiple teams, including his hometown Pelicans, before the Suns acquired him.
  • Deveney also reports that Oubre would “certainly be willing” to remain in Phoenix beyond this season, despite the club’s spot at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. Of course, since he’s a restricted free agent in 2019, it might be tricky for him to change teams even if he wanted to.
  • Within a profile on Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon cites a source who says that Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov “loved” Doncic, but had minimal input in Phoenix No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft.
  • After being fired by the Suns in October, former general manager Ryan McDonough plans to stay involved in the NBA in some capacity, but it still figuring out his next steps, he tells Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. In the meantime, he’s staying busy in an informal capacity for some NBA clubs. “A number of teams — probably a majority of the other 29 clubs — reached out, and a lot of them expressed interest in having me come visit or just kind of come observe what they do and exchange ideas and all that kind of stuff,” McDonough said. “So that’s what I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks. I was in Oakland on Monday night for the Grizzlies-Warriors game and was around the Golden State group for a few days, and in the weeks before that I’ve been to Denver and Utah and San Antonio, as well.”

Suns’ James Jones Talks Rivers, Ariza, Oubre, PGs

League executives were puzzled by the Suns‘ decision to waive both Tyson Chandler and Austin Rivers so early in the season, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. As Windhorst observes, even though the Suns may be tanking and weren’t interested in taking on multiyear money, parting ways with Chandler and Rivers – who were both on expiring contracts – closes the door on possible trade opportunities at the deadline.

In a discussion with Gina Mizell of The Athletic, interim co-general manager James Jones indirectly addressed those criticisms, explaining that Phoenix wants to do right by players. “We should be a place where every party, everyone involved, feels invested and feels connected,” Jones said. In the case of Rivers, Jones said that the team and Rivers’ camp mutually agreed that it “would be best if he found an opportunity that fit him better.”

Jones also weighed in on a handful of other subjects during conversations with Mizell and Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic, so we’ll round up some of his most noteworthy comments here:

On whether it was true that team owner Robert Sarver wouldn’t allow Trevor Ariza to be sent to the Lakers:

“No. Throughout all of this, Robert has been adamant that his focus is on what helps the Suns grow and be the best. That was inaccurate. Actually, if something could have worked out, Robert would have been a huge proponent, just because of that investment and understanding that Trevor and his family are (based) on the West Coast. If we can do right for both parties, it should make sense. There’s no reason why you wouldn’t do something that benefits both parties.”

On what he expects Kelly Oubre to bring to the Suns:

“Exactly what he’s demonstrated in the past. He’s young, but he’s experienced. He’s played in a lot of games. He’s played in the playoffs. He’s had tremendous success against some of the best players in the Eastern Conference, some of the best players in the NBA as a whole. His athleticism, his activity, just his competitiveness is something that, as we look at building the identity of this team, those are the foundational characteristics of all the players that we target. Do they play hard? Do they compete? Are they selfless? Do they sacrifice to win? He embodies that, and that’s why we’re excited to have him.”

On what happened with last Friday’s failed three-team trade involving the Wizards and Grizzlies:

“I’ll leave it as just a miscommunication. Going forward, we’re excited to have Kelly. Through everything, we have Kelly. We have a guy we know fits with us and we’re excited about.”

On the Suns’ ongoing search for an answer at point guard:

“For us, as free agency hit (during the 2018 offseason), you talk about that tier of starting caliber point guards, they chose other destinations that were a better fit and better suited to compete right now. As far as trades, I always say it takes two to tango. That’s not something you can control.

“For us at that position, we need someone who will compete defensively, can be impactful and can play well off our other perimeters… [De’Anthony Melton]’s been doing that and we’ll keep pushing him to get better.”

Western Notes: Oubre, Rivers, Doncic, Young

New addition Kelly Oubre is expected to make his debut for the Suns on Wednesday against the Celtics. It’s unclear what role he’ll play in Phoenix but the 23-year-old appears ready for whatever the team asks of him.

“They’re on a three-game winning streak, man, and I don’t wanna come in and slow them down in any type of way,” Oubre said (via Gina Mizell of The Athletic). “I try to help everybody get better, and in the process be aggressive and find myself in the system…I bring a lot of energy.”

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns officially waived Austin Rivers earlier today and it’s unlikely any team claims Rivers off of waivers, ESPN’s Bobby Marks contends (Twitter link). The Nuggets are the only team with enough cap space to make the claim and it’s unlikely they take a flyer on Rivers at his current $12.65MM salary since doing so would take them across the luxury tax threshold.
  • The Mavericks had conducted years of homework on Luka Doncic prior to the 2018 NBA Draft and it wasn’t difficult to convince owner Mark Cuban to trade up and nab the 19-year-old, as Eddie Sefko of Sports Day relays.“Mark saw all the same things we did,” GM Donnie Nelson said. “There were no coconuts necessary on this one.”
  • Nick Young, who recently signed with the Nuggets on a non-guaranteed, one-year deal, is fitting in well with his new team, Mike Singer of The Denver Post details. Assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr. applauds Young’s adaptability. “He’s been as kind-hearted as they come. I think a lot of times [Young is] misunderstood, but there’s not a negative bone in his body,” Unseld said. “He is one of the most positive people that I’ve ever met. A little different, a little eclectic, but he’s very positive and it’s good particularly in the situation he’s in. Guys gravitate toward him.”