As we headed into the NBA offseason, nobody would have expected Kelly Oubre Jr. to be the last big name on the free agent market. The veteran wing is coming off one of the most productive seasons in his career.
Sure, Oubre Jr. struggled for efficiency. Yet, when you contextualize his jump in role and the limited offensive talent around him, Oubre Jr.’s shooting numbers from last season aren’t as bad as a first glance would have you believe.
Nevertheless, Oubre Jr. is expected to land on a new team in the near future. Furthermore, that team is expected to be a contender. Oubre Jr. will be unlikely to find a situation where he can have a similar role on offense to the one he comprised for the Hornets last season, but that’s probably for the best.
Instead, the veteran wing will likely slot into a team’s bench rotation or be a tertiary offensive option in the starting unit. Most importantly, though, Oubre Jr. will almost certainly be taking a big pay cut. Last season, the former Hornets wing earned $12.6 million.
His next contract will likely be a veteran minimum, worth approximately $2.6 million. That’s a huge pay drop for a player who averaged 20.3 points and 5.2 rebounds last season.
So, with Oubre Jr. likely to be a steal on a discounted contract, who are the three potential teams that could add him to their roster ahead of the upcoming season?
The Miami Heat could add former Hornets wing Kelly Oubre Jr.
According to a report by Marc Stein in his SteinLine Newsletter, the Miami Heat are expected to acquire Kelly Oubre Jr. – if they can get a trade for Damian Lillard over the line.
"“Multiple teams I’ve spoken to recently expect free agent swingman Kelly Oubre Jr. to ultimately land with the Miami Heat,” Stein wrote. “… provided that the Heat are ultimately successful in their quest to trade for Portland’s Damian Lillard. The presumption is that Miami is likely to have a clear need on the wing if it can eventually manage the requisite trade package to pry Lillard from the Pacific Northwest after a frustratingly quiet summer on that front for the Heat. Oubre is by far the most accomplished player available on the free agent market to address such a need after he nearly cracked the top 50 in scoring last season by averaging 20.3 points per game with Charlotte.”"
Oubre Jr. would slide straight into the Heat’s rotation, especially when you consider the package they would need to send to the Portland Trail Blazers to acquire Lillard in the first place. For the 27-year-old wing, Miami could be the ideal landing spot. Oubre Jr. would get the chance to be a starter, contend for championships, and play alongside three elite All-Star talents.
However, Oubre Jr. would need to take a big step backward in the role, but in truth, that could work to his benefit. As we saw last season, his game isn’t designed to be a high-usage offensive threat.