Kelly Oubre

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.”

Wizards Notes: Ariza, Oubre, Dekker, Porter

Suns guard Devin Booker referred to Trevor Ariza as a player who was “loved in the locker room” in Phoenix, but the club’s slow start to the season took a toll on the veteran forward — sources tell Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic that Ariza “checked out mentally” early in the 2018/19 campaign. The decision to trade him was a mutual one made by the Suns and Ariza’s camp, Rankin adds.

Ariza, who is joining the Wizards for the second time in his career, will be thrown into the fire right away by his new team — he’ll be in Washington’s starting lineup on Tuesday night, head coach Scott Brooks said today (Twitter link via Candace Buckner of The Washington Post).

As Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington observes, Ariza primarily came off the bench during his first season in D.C. back in 2012/13, but he has started every game since then, so it’s no surprise that he’ll slot right into the starting five for the Wizards. His old teammates are looking forward to playing alongside him again, as Standig relays.

“It’s always great to add a guy like Trevor back, one of the best veterans and teammates I had,” John Wall said. “We know what he brings to the table.”

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • In an article for NBC Sports Washington, Chase Hughes explores whether the Wizards got enough for Kelly Oubre after spending several years developing him. Within the piece, a source tells Hughes that Oubre and the Wizards never got very close to reaching a deal on a contract extension during the offseason.
  • Sam Dekker is turning out to not just be a throw-in in a trade that saved the Wizards some money — the veteran forward has earned regular minutes in Washington’s rotation during his first week and a half with his new team, as Ben Standig details for NBC Sports Washington. “He cuts to the basket, he moves the ball, he plays hard, he brings energy, he plays with the proper respect for the game,” head coach Scott Brooks said of Dekker. “That is what I love about him, he always seems to be prepared. He doesn’t have to turn the switch on, it’s on.”
  • Otto Porter was diagnosed with a Grade II strain of his right vastus medialis, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post (Twitter link), who explains that the vastus medialis is part of the quadriceps muscle group. Porter will likely sit out until next week, Buckner reports.
  • Earlier today, the Wizards finalized their signing of Chasson Randle and we took a closer look at the timing of that move.

Suns Notes: Kokoskov, Oubre, Rivers, Ewans, Arena

Over the weekend, the Suns struck a deal — which initially started as a failed three-team trade — that sent swingman Trevor Ariza to the Wizards in exchange for Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers. The deal became official on Monday as both teams announced the move.

The Wizards reunited with a former player who has experience contending for the postseason. For the Suns, their return is more rooted in maintenance, head coach Igor Kokoskov told reporters (via Gina Mizell of The Athletic).

“We need somebody who’s gonna help us with maintaining,” he said.  “A lot of games, we can’t go through the 48 minutes…We’re gonna find their roles. We definitely can use the talent and experience they have.” 

Kokoskov’s comments are reflective of the Suns’ NBA-worst 6-24 record. It’s possible that Phoenix trades one or both of their new players closer to the trade deadline but in the meantime, they should help the Suns at least appear competitive.

Check out more Suns notes below:

  • Kokoskov is an 18-year NBA assistant coach currently in his first season as a head coach. In that short stint, the Suns have made seven different roster moves, showing the team’s state of influx. As Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes, Kokoskov is involved in the process of all those moves. “NBA organization is a serious organization,” Kokoskov said. “I’m always asked for opinion and my job description is to run the team and coach the team and get us ready and prepared for Minnesota.”
  • Jawun Evans, currently on a two-way deal with the Suns, has shown the ability to be an effective player in the G League. Ewans’ hope is to translate that success with Phoenix, where he was carved out a role off the bench, Cody Cunningham of NBA.com writes. “I just hope to bring grit to the team,” Evans said. “Somebody that on the defensive and offensive end, just to play faster and get everybody involved. Go out there and just have fun playing basketball.”
  • Rebekah L. Sanders of the Arizona Republic examines the Suns’ arena situation and why it might be one of the worst in the NBA. As various NBA franchise attempt to sway the NBA into new arenas, the Suns’ 26-year-old Talking Stick Resort Arena will be the oldest arena in the NBA not to be renovated or rebuilt in the past five years, Sanders writes.

Suns Trade Ariza To Wizards For Oubre, Rivers

DECEMBER 17: The trade is now official, with both the Suns and Wizards issuing press releases to confirm the move.

DECEMBER 15: After a hectic Friday night in which a three-team deal was scrapped, the Suns have agreed to deal Trevor Ariza to the Wizards in exchange for Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 reports (Twitter link). The trade call with the league is scheduled for later today, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Last night’s nearly completed deal would have sent Ariza to the Wizards, Rivers to the Suns and allowed the Grizzlies to acquire Oubre for Wayne Selden, two second-round picks, and one other player. The confusion came over the identity of that other player as the Grizzlies believed they were dealing MarShon Brooks while the Suns thought Dillon Brooks was headed their way.

As we relayed in a separate story, despite the nixed deal, Phoenix and Washington remained in touch to see if an Ariza trade could be completed.

This version of an Ariza trade includes three players in the final year of their respective deals.  For Ariza, the trade means the end of a brief 26-game stint in Phoenix as he signed a one-year, $15MM deal with the Suns during the 2018 offseason. Ariza averaged 9.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and a .379/.360/.837 shooting line for the Suns.

This marks a homecoming of sorts for Ariza as he spent two seasons with the Wizards, including perhaps his best season as a pro in 2013/14, when he averaged 14.4 PPG and 6.2 RPG with a .456/.407/.772 shooting line. Prior to this trade, we had relayed at least eight teams had expressed interest in Ariza, including the Lakers and Rockets — two teams he had previously suited up for.

During his stint in the nation’s capital, Ariza was reportedly a respected presence who, among other things, had a good impact on the team’s All-Star point guard, John Wall. At 11-18, the Wizards are 2.5 games back of the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed and will hope Ariza’s 3-and-D ability can narrow the gap.

For the NBA-worst Suns, they acquired a pair of useful assets that could possibly be used as trade chips later in the season. Rivers, 26, has been a mainstay off the Wizards’ bench, averaging 7.2 PPG and 2.4 RPG for Washington. Rivers’ shooting has taken a hit this season as his field-goal percentage (39.2%) and three-point shooting (31.1%) are his worst in several seasons.

As for Oubre, 23, he averaged a career-high 12.9 PPG in 29 games (seven starts) for the Wizards. By trading Oubre, the Wizards will create a traded player exception worth his salary ($3,208,630). Washington already had four trade exceptions, including one worth $5.45MM, as our list of outstanding TPEs shows.

Oubre is set to hit restricted free agency this upcoming summer, at which point the Suns could tender him a $4.5MM qualifying offer, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes. Phoenix could flip Oubre before the trade deadline but cannot aggregate him with another player for salary-matching purposes.

Once the deal is completed, the Wizards’ roster will dip below the requirement of 14. Washington will need to sign another player within two weeks to get their roster count back up to the minimum.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wizards Notes: Ariza, Oubre, Rivers, Wall

Trading for Trevor Ariza is a short-sighted move that offers false hope to Wizards fans, writes Tom Ziller of SB Nation. Washington makes a similar move nearly every season, Ziller notes, adding veteran players who are supposed to be difference makers, but the team has won just three playoff series since John Wall arrived.

The addition of Ariza, in a deal expected to be completed tomorrow, seems almost certain to be a short-term move. His contract expires at the end of the season, Washington doesn’t acquire his Bird Rights because he’s on a one-year deal and the team already projects to be over the cap for 2019/20.

The Wizards wanted to unload Kelly Oubre, who is being shipped to Phoenix, before he hit restricted free agency next summer. But Ziller blasts that thought process as well, contending the team would have been better off taking its chances that Oubre wouldn’t get an offer that’s too expensive to match. As it stands, Washington will probably enter next season without Ariza, Oubre or anything else to show from this weekend’s trade.

There’s more from the nation’s capital:

  • Players were left in disbelief after the bizarre circumstances of Friday’s canceled trade, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Oubre and Austin Rivers learned they were being dealt Friday night, then found out the deal collapsed before it was revived in a different form Saturday morning. “It was kind of weird and kind of difficult,” Wall said. “[We] go into the locker room and we’re about to shower and stuff and we don’t understand who is about to get traded, who’s been traded. It was kind of a tough situation. I give those guys a lot of credit. They handled that stuff like professionals. A lot of guys could have reacted in different ways, which I have seen in the past.”
  • Wall understands the financial component of the deal and why the team wasn’t optimistic about keeping Oubre, Hughes adds in the same piece. Washington has the sixth-highest payroll in the league and is facing a significant luxury tax payment. The team has made three trades already this season and has saved money on each one. “We have three guys that are paid pretty high,” Wall said. “And then understanding what Kelly is going to receive or ask for this summer, I don’t think we have the money to match it. So, I think that’s the reason why we made that trade.”
  • The Wizards sent $500K to the Bucks in last week’s deal that brought in Sam Dekker for Jason Smith, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

Grizzlies GM Speaks Out On Failed Trade

The Suns traded Trevor Ariza to the Wizards this morning without any involvement from the Grizzlies after last night’s three-team deal collapsed because of confusion over whether Dillon Brooks or MarShon Brooks was being sent to Phoenix.

Memphis GM Chris Wallace spoke to reporters today about the drama and denied that his team had any role in making the Suns think they were getting Dillon instead of MarShon, writes Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian.

“We were very clear about who was in the trade,” Wallace said. “Contrary to reports, it was not Dillon Brooks. It put us in a very difficult situation with our players when individuals from one or both of those teams leaked the deal while we were playing last night. That forced me to do something I’ve never done in 30 years in this league working for seven teams: To drag two players out of the locker room to tell them they’d been traded and then come back and tell them, no, you haven’t been traded.”

The proposed deal would have sent Ariza to Washington, Kelly Oubre to Memphis and Austin Rivers, Wayne Selden and Brooks — either Dillon or MarShon — to Phoenix. It’s obvious why the Suns would prefer the 22-year-old Dillon Brooks, who was a second-round draft pick in 2017 and is coming off a promising rookie season. MarShon Brooks, 29, is with his fifth NBA franchise and was out of the league for more than three years before Memphis signed him last season.

The trade was virtually finalized before the Grizzlies and Suns realized they were talking about different players, which Wallace admits was an unprecedented turn of events.

“”Fortunately MarShon and Wayne are pros and after I explained it to them they’re both OK with the situation and we’re all moving forward,” Wallace said. “But what happened last night was unfathomable. From our standpoint, and we made this very clear, it was not Dillon Brooks.”

Wallace believes much of the confusion came about because the Grizzlies and Wizards were both occupied with games. News of the deal leaked before those games concluded, which may help to explain the contradictory reports. Herrington notes that original reports had Dillon Brooks as part of the deal, so it’s unlikely they came from Memphis.

Wallace explained that the trade began to come together Thursday afternoon, but most of the work was done Friday through “multiple discussions” with Washington. He adds that the three teams could probably have worked out the confusion behind the scenes if news of the deal hadn’t been leaked. He also suggested that the incident may make him wary about future dealings with the Suns and Wizards.

“I don’t carry grudges, but I’m not happy about what happened last night,” he said. “We were put in a very difficult position with our players, a position we take great pains not to get into, and we were forced to talk to them (about a trade) right after a loss in the locker room. This should all have stayed in house, and it didn’t, and that started the avalanche going downhill.”