There’s a good chance that forward Kelly Oubre is going to see his one-year marriage with the Golden State Warriors come to an end this summer.
The wing is slated to become a free agent and won’t return to the Warriors as a member of their starting five. Short of Oubre taking on a bench role, he’s as good as gone.
The 25-year-old former first-round pick struggled early on his first season with the Warriors. That was to be expected after he was acquired in a trade just a month ahead of the 2020-21 season starting. Once he got more comfortable in the system, the three-and-D wing performed much better. Just look at his splits.
- First 21 games: 12.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 38% field goal, 23% three-point
- Final 34 games: 17.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 47% shooting, 37% three-point
In addition to improving with his shooting on offense as the season progressed, Oubre continued to perform at a high level on the defensive end of the court. It brought back memories of his 2019-20 performance with the Phoenix Suns when the former Kansas star averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds on 35% shooting from distance.
Whether as a sign-and-trade candidate or simply as a free agent, Kelly Oubre is going to draw a ton of interest on the open market. He’s said to be looking at between $15 and $20 million annually. Meanwhile, the Warriors might want to get something for the pending free agent. Below, we look at four ideal destinations this summer.
Kelly Oubre to the Dallas Mavericks
Depending on how the Tim Hardaway Jr. situation plays out and whether Josh Richardson picks up his $11.6 million option for the 2021-22 season, Dallas might be able to afford signing Oubre outright. He’d be an absolutely perfect fit next to franchise stalwart Luka Doncic out on the perimeter. Specifically, Oubre’s outstanding defense would take some of the pressure off the NBA MVP candidate. It’s an issue the Mavericks have had in recent seasons.
Regardless of what happens with Kristaps Porzingis this summer, Dallas must improve its supporting cast behind Doncic. That became clear during a seven-game first-round series loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA Playoffs. Mark Cuban and Co. could also potentially create flexibility to add other players in free agency by pulling off a sign-and-trade for Oubre. That would likely include giving up Dwight Powell and a pick to the Warriors.
Kelly Oubre to the Miami Heat
Yahoo! Sports Vincent Goodwill pointed to the Heat as a potential destination for Oubre. The focus here is on how he’d fit with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo in South Beach. In what was atypical of an Erik Spoelstra-led team, Miami struggled defensively during a down 2020-21 season. That was magnified during a first-round sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks. Oubre would rectify this in a big way.
Miami’s ability to potentially acquire Oubre in a sign-and-trade could make sense. It has a $15 million team option on Andre Iguodala’s contract, which the team would normally decline. Instead, the Heat would pick up Iggy’s contract and ship him off to his former Warriors team with another asset or two for Oubre. In short, that would enable front office head Pat Riley to hit the NBA free-agent market hard before this deal becomes official. Riley is a master of the cap. Don’t put this past him.
Kelly Oubre to the Portland Trail Blazers
After Blazers general manager Neil Olshey found his fall guy in head coach Terry Stotts following a fourth first-round exit in five playoff appearances, it’s becoming clear that he’s not comfortable with taking responsibility. That might sound harsh. But it’s the truth. After all, the roster he constructed yielded north of 114 points per game while finishing second-to-last in defensive rating during the 2020-21 season.
There’s a simple path to fixing this, and potentially, Portland’s relationship with star guard Damian Lillard. Whatever the cost, these Blazers just need to improve defensively. Without cap space to work with, Portland would likely have to offer up an underperforming Robert Covington and potentially even young guard Anfernee Simons to the Warriors in order to make this work. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Kelly Oubre to the New York Knicks
This has been bandied about a lot recently. Fresh off a surprising 2020-21 season and a first-round playoff exit, the Knicks are going to be active this summer. They are also going to have roughly $56 million in cap room to work with. Unlike other cash-strapped teams, that means potentially being able to sign players outright.
To say that Oubre is a good fit under defensive-minded head coach Tom Thibodeau would be an understatement. His ability to hit the outside shot is also a need for a Knicks squad that struggled in that area last season. If New York wanted to save some cash for free agents, it could even potentially offer up Kevin Knox and one of its 2021 first-round picks to the Warriors in a sign-and-trade. Depending on what the Knicks do at center, Mitchell Robinson could also be an option here.