Kelly Oubre Jr. had a frustrating first season with the Golden State Warriors. They gave up a valuable draft pick and paid a hefty luxury tax fee to acquire Oubre, but in 55 games, he played wildly inconsistently on offense and shot only 31.6 percent from behind the arc, his worst figure since his rookie season. However, that hasn’t stopped him and his camp from setting a high bar for themselves in free agency.
Oubre is confident he can get over $20 million per year on his next contract, ideally on a long-term deal, according to Michael Scotto on the HoopsHype Podcast, He adds that while Golden State is willing to keep him, that $20 million price point might be a bit too rich for their blood. Oubre made just under $14.4 million this season.
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Getting up to $20 million will be difficult for a number of reasons. First of all, he seems like an odd fit for many of the teams with cap space. The Knicks, Heat, Raptors and Mavericks likely have grander ambitions than adding a journeyman forward. Oklahoma City is rebuilding, and if it had wanted to keep him for the long haul, it wouldn’t have traded him to Golden State in the first place. Charlotte is expected to pursue a center. That leaves San Antonio and Memphis as possible options with the money to make him such an offer, but with so few bidders, it’s unlikely he’d see such a big raise.
The other issue for Oubre is how poorly the Warriors played with him on the floor. The Warriors had a minus-4.6 net rating with Oubre on the floor and a plus-7 net rating with him off of it. They went 11-5 in games he missed and 28-28 in games he played in. In fairness, many of those minutes and games were shared with rookie center James Wiseman, who struggled mightily to fit into a winning NBA team as a 19-year-old. But Oubre’s poor shooting and uneven defense didn’t help matters, either.
The Warriors have one of the most expensive rosters in NBA history. They already have four players — Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins — who are making at least $24 million, and before the offseason even begins, they already have over $160 million in committed salary. If they keep Oubre, they will unquestionably have the priciest roster in basketball, but with all of the revenue they figure to generate from their new arena and the imperative to compete while Curry is still in his prime, it might just be worth it.
Still, they are unlikely to pay such a premium for Oubre without at least scoping out the market first. The Warriors have the option of packaging Wiseman with their two possible lottery picks to try to add another star, and even if they don’t, they might be able to re-sign Oubre at a lower price if he doesn’t drum up the interest that he expects on the open market. Oubre’s performance this season was far closer to that of a mid-level signing than a $20 million player, and unless some team signs him based on his potential for improvement, his next contract will likely come closer to that first figure than the $20 million he’s seeking.