The Suns and Kelly Oubre Jr. set aside their differences late Wednesday night to come to terms on a new contract that will keep Oubre in the Valley for the next two seasons for a guaranteed $30 million.
Team and player had been entangled in negotiations for a week and a half, but as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported, finally came to terms on a contract that will pay Oubre Jr. more than any other team could have at this point in free agency.
“I think we’ve demonstrated time and time again that he’s someone that we love and we value,” general manager James Jones said Wednesday night in Las Vegas.
By the time the dust cleared during NBA Summer League and teams like Dallas and the Clippers spent their remaining cap space, Oubre’s market dried up. Some, like ESPN’s Bobby Marks, even brought up the possibility of Oubre taking the $4.9 million qualifying offer for one season to eventually become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2020.
Instead, Oubre will receive far more during the next two seasons than he would have signing an offer sheet with another team or taking his qualifying offer. He will also be able to cash in in the summer of 2021, which is more star-studded than next summer by far. Oubre will face a similar situation that year as a potential Plan B for teams who strike out on top-level stars.
The Suns lock Oubre in on a contract during the final two seasons before Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges become extension-eligible and maintain flexibility at the wing position. Having just drafted Cam Johnson this year and Bridges in 2018, Phoenix likely sees value in being able to reevaluate their depth at forward just two seasons out.
Apart from how Oubre factors into the Suns’ plans, his contract is incredibly tradable as well. It’s not too expensive so as to be a clear overpay, and will be an expiring contract in just one season. If Oubre grows as a player, Phoenix will be happy to pay him $15 million on average the next two seasons. If he remains at his previous level, the Suns can use his salary in a trade for another core piece next to Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.
Oubre stays with the Suns for his age-24 and age-25 seasons, and he will play a major role going forward. At least to start the season, Oubre will likely be starting on the wing for the Suns with Booker.
“Our team is set up to compete, and I’m so looking forward to that in training camp, just watching guys compete,” said coach Monty Williams on Tuesday.
Williams added this week that there will be a training camp competition for who will start at forward. That could change now that Oubre is locked in on a large salary this year, coming off an impressive performance in the second half of the season in Phoenix.
This deal for Oubre, as expected, will put the Suns over the salary cap for this season. Because they entered the summer under the cap, however, Phoenix can also now lock in Frank Kaminsky on a room exception contract for $4.77 million this season. That will be their final piece of business after the Oubre contract is official.
Restricted free agency slowed Oubre’s market, but the young wing and the Suns found a deal that will satisfy both sides. Oubre cashes in, the Suns keep a developing young talent who fit well in their locker room, and both parties can move on in two years if they choose.