The remote and slim chance of Kelly Oubre Jr. returning to the Charlotte Hornets has now gone by the wayside. Oubre has agreed to a one-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, bringing an end to the extended free agent sage of the 27-year-old forward.
Oubre spent two seasons with the Hornets, averaging 17 points and 4.4 rebounds in 124 games. The second year was more productive for the Kansas product as he averaged 20.3 points and 5.2 rebounds on 43.1% from the field. Unfortunately, like several of his other Hornets teammates, Oubre was limited, appearing in just 48 games last year.
It became a numbers game for Charlotte when it came to evaluating its roster configuration and its overall approach to the team-building process. The Hornets could have easily re-signed Oubre this offseason, continuing to give him a prominent role (averaging 32.3 minutes per game last season).
Ultimately, it was the selection of Brandon Miller with the second overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft that closed the door on Oubre’s time in Charlotte. While a talented and productive player in his time with the organization, it was determined that their best foot forward would be fully embracing the youth movement by having Miller grow and develop alongside many other young players on the roster.
It was never about talent but rather about recognizing competitive timelines. The Hornets are still far away from resembling a competitive team. Bringing Oubre back into the fold may raise the floor of the team, but the ceiling would remain capped. This would do more than good with straddling the line between tanking and competitive play results in organizations remaining perpetually irrelevant.
By moving on from Oubre, the Hornets should be able to develop their young talent and become a team with a much higher ceiling than they would with him on the roster. Although the possibility exists that this may not play out as described, not taking a chance on it would be incredibly foolish from a long-term team development standpoint.