The Oubre Equation

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Updated: July 23, 2021
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Kelly Oubre has been reported to be looking for a starting role and a 20 per-multi-year deal this off-season. As much as the Warriors would love to retain him, the extreme economic repercussions from the repeater tax would be quite an ask from ownership for a 6th man off the bench upon Klay Thompson’s return to the starting lineup. The 20 would translate to something north of 85 million in total with the tax tacked on. The front office has not ruled out spending out of pocket on the upcoming season with the Curry MVP caliber window still open, but it would presumably be if that piece is essential to a title or bust season. The league’s perception on Oubre’s value in the open market is still unknown, yet many teams have been rumored to have serious interests in signing him this offseason. With his recent interview expressing his discontent with his “opportunities” down the stretch of the season with the organization, it is likely that Oubre would prefer to play elsewhere. Even with the interests of teams signing him, there is no guarantees Kelly will be offered the type of contract he will likely demand as he has been shipped at a discount from the East Coast to the West.

From Washington to Phoenix, from the Suns to OKC, and for a single 1st rounder to Golden State; with his tools and physical attributes he should be a no-brainer near max versatile wing. However, with Oubre’s low IQ off ball on the defensive end, and possibly due to his off-court reputation, a 4-year 80+ million-dollar deal would certainly be gamble for any team in this league. Especially since both this season and the last ended with him on the sidelines with injuries and unable to contribute in play-in games for the playoffs. With his recklessness at the basket, he might be labeled as injury-prone by some GMs.

What could be an option however, to sweeten the gamble on a Kelly Oubre deal, would be if it were attached to 7th and 14th picks, along with the high ceiling of 2nd pick of the draft James Wisemen. Most of recent trade talks for the Warriors have centered around the Andrew Wiggins contract, yet any move including Wiggins becomes more lateral as Wiggins has been their primary wing defender. If it were Oubre included as the large salary in the deal next to Wisemen, the all-in move has a more sound logic in creating a title contender. These are the Warrior’s options in such an exchange.

The Butler Exchange

The Heats’ implosion in Milwaukee, against the team they upset in the Bubble last year, has led most to come to a reversal on the claims that Jimmy Butler in a top 10 talent of the NBA. One could argue it was due to the Miami culture, and that the Heat ran out of steam in this shortened season, but what it appears, is Butler is ideally a second option on a title contender and not the underdog primary star he showed glimpses of against the Bucks and the Lakers in the Finals. Luckily for Miami, they had signed Jimmy straight out in the offseason a few years back and did not have to give a box of assets for his services the way the Timberwolves and 76ers did. With his inability this year to shoot at league average from behind the arc and how pedestrian he appeared in the first round of the playoffs, one would assume, if the right deal came around, Miami would be ready and willing to part with their two-way star.

Heat

Kelly Oubre may be a perfect fit with the Heat Culture. Miami would get a younger and cheaper 2-3 wing whose effort level is always set to 100. Kelly’s early season woes made him look like a Bob Myers’ mistake with him shooting below 20% from 3, but the latter half of the year, he appeared to be exactly what the Warriors had intended to pay for. The gamble of Kelly is clear, as he seems to be a feast or famine talent and with his current low-IQ off ball on the defensive end, his future development is a must for the juice to be worth the squeeze on an 80-million-dollar deal. However, with the Minnesota pick and potential attached to the addition of young James Wisemen, the Heat could use Jimmy as the piece for a soft-rebuild. It would allow a team who does not have control of their own picks moving forward to create a strong-young core without the need of a multiple years of tanking and still compete for the playoffs in the East. There is a world, with flashes that have been shown with Wisemen’s shot from deep, that him and Bam could become the most dynamic twin towers of the league. With Precious Achiuwa playing less than 5 minutes per game against the Bucks and south of 13 minutes a game in the regular season, it is unlikely there would be much room in the Heat’s rotation with the addition of Wisemen. His value would be added to pay for the high price of Wisemen and the two lottery picks, but could be removed depending on the perception of both franchises on the exchange.

An interesting variable to consider from Miami’s position, is even if you value Butler somewhere between this poor performance against the Bucks and last year’s heroics, Butler’s playing style and personality clash heavily with team’s ability to fit him into their title contentions. The primary reason for this being Butler’s shooting makes him in need of being a facilitator on the offensive end to be effective. This heavily limits the teams available who have win now-aspirations along with the necessary assets to make the exchange intriguing for Miami.

Golden State

In a win-now, title or bust move, the Warriors send out their young wing, brand new shiny center, and their two lottery picks this year, for the two-way All-Star in Jimmy Butler. There is a world which is not hard to imagine, with the return of a healthy and well-rested Thompson that Golden State sports the best starting lineup in basketball. Curry, Klay, Butler, Wiggins, and Draymond at the small ball 5, the Warriors going into the 2021 season would be projected as a top 10 squad on both ends of the floor. Especially with Wiggins establishing himself this year as a plus defender, Klay would no longer be responsible for covering top scoring matchups and focus his energy more as the off-ball offense threat to punish defenses for doubles and triples of Curry. Even if Precious was not included in the deal, if they were able to retain Bazemore and Looney on cheap contracts as expected, their depth should prove to be significantly better than it has been with the recent flowering of young guard Jordan Poole as their microwave scorer off the bench.

Jimmy’s late game midrange attack and willingness to take over in 4th quarters is something that the Warriors have lacked even in the KD era. With the pressure removed of being the primary option and only expected to average north of 15 next to the Splash Brothers and Wiggins, Jimmy can expend the majority of his energy in the first 3 quarters as the ruthless and relentless defender he prides himself on. One can even imagine the high-level defensive convo’s between Butler and Draymond on how to shutdown LA squads and prepare for 7 game series.

Boston & Brown

There may have not been a bigger disappointment in the Eastern Conference these last two years outside of Boston. The expectations after acquiring Irving and the war chest of 1st round draft picks they had collected from the Nets exchange in the Pierce-Garnett era had many people choosing the Celtics as the franchise to take over after the KD Warriors. But after the recent first-round gentlemen’s sweep against Kyrie’s new super-team in Brooklyn, there are serious questions around the league of the direction of their future.

One key assumption around league, is that the Celtics will continue to build around their pair of blossoming two-way wings. Tatum only recently turning 23 and Brown at 24, Boston has the option to simply wait for internal development as both have shown MVP like flashes. Certainly, both of them are destined to be perineal all-stars and potentially regulars in the All-NBA discussions for all their years moving forward. Kelly Oubre and Jordan Poole might be exactly the remedy for this Boston Squad. Oubre as a relentless, high-end on-ball defender and fearless finisher at the basket brings a tenacity which is lacking in Boston. And Poole, who 6 months ago had so little value he was sent down to the G league has average 20+ in the second half of the season. He has a high ceiling as a playmaker and is has proven in a small sample size to love taking big shots in big moments. For those in Boston who think Poole’s value implied in this exchange is a joke, you’d be surprised to hear the push back from Warrior fans’ reluctancy in adding him in such a deal. Especially since Poole has look more and more competent on the defensive end of the floor.

However, if it were just those two players, it would be an easy soft “No,” from new president of operations, Brad Stevens. It would be a lateral move and possibly a step back in overall talent if it were just Oubre and Poole added into the Boston rotation. However, with the included assets, the Celtics can develop two high ceiling bigs in Robert Williams and Wisemen along with the two lottery picks this year. The East appears to have changed, and it is possible that Boston’s window is a year or two down the road when Tatum is in his full-fledged prime.

Warriors

Undoubtedly, Poole, Wisemen, and the pick is quite a price for a player who has yet to make an All-NBA team, but one of the variables that needs to be added into the equation is the extremely favorable contract J-Brown has in the upcoming season. Oubre would need to be given an extra 2-4 million per year to get his consent for the sign-and-trade, as Boston it is unlikely his chosen destination. It also frees about 5 million in salary for the Warriors, allowing them to use their 6-million-dollar mid-level exception.

Jaylen Brown provides the Warriors with an upgrade on the defensive end from Oubre or Poole. With Draymond as the defensive commander, Wiggins, Klay, and Brown, may prove to be the defensive unit around Curry to win a title. On the Warriors, next to Steph and Klay, Jaylen’s non-Alpha mentality could even be seen as a plus, as he averages the easiest 24 points in the NBA. With his flashes of MVP caliber play earlier in the season, along with his on and off ball defensive capabilities, he arguably would be a better fit than a player like Bradly Beal, and comes at a cheaper cost in salary and less assets needed to acquire him.

BI & Zion

With high expectations and the dominance of Zion Williamson, the league was left with frustration at what New Orleans looked like down the stretch of the season. BI has shown to be a true offensive talent and a fearless scorer, and yet his fit next to Zion has been a questionable one. Oubre is an obvious offensive downgrade but has more juice on the defensive end which the Pelicans are desperately lacking. With regards to Wisemen, he is a project player, but if fully grown and developed could create the best front court in basketball with his ability to stroke the 3 next to the point-forward in Williamson. The two lottery picks are included to sweeten the deal and balance out the exchange.

Warriors

The Warriors get something for nothing in Oubre while attaching their two blue chip assets. In return, they get the thing Wiggins is not, an Alpha scorer who will be chopping at the bit to torcher teams who wish to triple team Steph Curry. Brandon Ingram is the cheap man’s Kevin Durant, and with his low-profile around the league may even be a better long term fit. With Curry, Klay, Ingram, Wiggins, and Draymond, they could end up being the best closing lineup in the league.

Toronto Soft Rebuild

With the 4th pick in the draft, and Pascal Siakam undergoing shoulder surgery, there are talks up North about a soft-rebuild. With several contenders in need of a win now veteran point guard, the market for a sign and trade for Kyle Lowry should be prime. If this is the case, with the passing of the greatest Raptor, it may be the turning point for a youth movement in Toronto. Especially with how good the top 5 are projected to be in the upcoming 2021 draft class, a very successful and quick rebuild is available with all the movement and plus contracts they have on the roster. Rumors have circled around Siakam, but after the surgery and his let down season this year, the Raptors would presumably sell low on last year’s most improved player.

Instead, the trade above sends B level players for assets and upside. The exchange assumes that Toronto is high on the Wisemen ceiling. With regards to the Oubre contract, they would likely need to sweeten the contract from 21 to 23 to get his signature on a deal that sends him internationally. But with the pieces and assets they would acquire in the sign and trade, in combination with the 4th, 7th, and 14th, picks, it is not hard to imagine they could draw Detroit into a swap for 1. Cade, Oubre, OG, Siakam, Wisemen, and Gary Trent off the bench looks more than enticing.

Warriors

This would be an entirely different route than the other trades which include a star level talent. Instead, it sends all their blue-chip assets for depth and fit. VanVleet has proven at Oracle that he’s a big shot maker and a serious floor spacer. He also can play on and off ball and appears to be a solid teammate ready to accept whatever role is demanded of him. Only 6’1 but an above average defender and was considered by some as a candidate for 2nd team all defense. It would also allow Kerr to bring Klay along slowly on a minutes restriction to get him healthy and peaking for the playoffs.

Chris Boucher is maybe the most ideal 4 if the Warriors move off James Wisemen and fully commit a small-ball lineup with Draymond at the 5. Boucher shoots north of 38 percent from distance, protects the rim with nearly 2 blocks per game, and is hungry to score. Having 2 non-shooters on the floor has consistently caused problems for the Warriors allowing teams to double and trip team Curry. With the amount of wide-open shots Boucher would see, he could be a 20 per game scorer. He lappears to have the perfect mentality on a team whose others are often dared to take open jumpers. With Klay fully back by the post-season, the non-Curry minutes should still be quite strong with VanVleet and Poole.

Conclusion

With this all in move, it would be assumed that ownership is willing to spend and would opt to use their mid-level on signing a vet-center with size in the offseason. I am not opposed to simply keeping Oubre and the juice he provides, but it’s questionable if after being moved to the bench if that energy he has brought on the defense of end of the floor would sustain.

 

 

 

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