Kelly Oubre’s new contract with the Phoenix Suns is a big deal

Kelly Oubre Deandre Ayton Devin Booker Phoenix Suns (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kelly Oubre Deandre Ayton Devin Booker Phoenix Suns (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns have finally locked up Kelly Oubre. His contract is a bigger deal than it might seem at first blush.

Phoenix Suns fans have been dying for a information about Kelly Oubre‘s return to the franchise for weeks now, news which has finally broken that he has re-signed – above the cap – allowing the Valley Boyz to remain intact for the time being.

Signed for two years and $30 million ($15.3 million this season and $14.7 million in 2020-21), Oubre’s contract in cost is right at about where Suns fans figured it would be.

The contract’s length, however, is a lot shorter than many had hoped.

On Twitter, John Gambadoro reported that both sides compromised to some degree.

Presumably, Phoenix wanted to retain Oubre via a longer contract, keeping the core together for three to four-years, giving the Young Suns a greater chance of gelling and becoming a legitimate big three (with Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton).

This too would have bought the franchise time with Oubre at a lesser rate if he does develop into a star who out-plays the contract that he would have signed this offseason (an average of $15 million a year for a potential star over the next four seasons would have been extremely advantageous to the franchise in their attempt to potentially replace Ricky Rubio in the summer of 2022 as well as their need to continue to add talent around the core).

For Oubre, he presumably would have preferred to bank on himself this season and take a one-year qualifying offer (of approximately $9 million), allowing him to hit the free agent market next summer where there is far less predicted major talent available than this offseason.

With a very good season coming up (which is of course relative to his own statistics rather than the team’s win total), Oubre may jump from a $15 million a year player to up around a max player, a rate (if deserved) he likely would be able to keep for two contractual turns beginning at the age of 24.

Instead, Oubre accepted guaranteed security of $30 million for two years in the event that either his play does not live up to the hyped potential of last season’s stint following his acquisition from the Washington Wizards, or he unfortunately succumbs to a major injury.

Which is, of course, a really big deal for the Phoenix Suns.

If Oubre did suddenly prove that he can be a big star in this league, and if he is about to take another leap this coming season under the guidance of Monty Williams, than James Jones has two years to figure out the roster and their corresponding cap to be able to guarantee that he can work Oubre in long-term beginning in 2021.

Oubre likely would have taken a longer deal (potentially that four-year contract that fans were hoping for) had the Suns been willing to up the anti to around $20 million a year or more, arguably still a steal for a star – however, with the nagging question not yet answered: is he actually a star?

Re-signing Oubre long-term was always going to be a risk for the Phoenix Suns because of his short time of legitimate success in the Association.

While it is no surprise to see a player take four years in the NBA before finally showing their true talent (Oubre entered the league at only 19-years-old after just one okay  year at Kansas statistically – 9.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 0.8 assists).

However, Oubre only “broke out” as a potential star in his 40 games with the Suns, of which only 12 were as a starter.

No matter how much Phoenix was willing to offer, they were going in on a player with a career average of 8.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.7 assists, and a 3-point percentage of just 32.1% before he got here.

There is also another caveat to the summer of 2021 when Oubre’s contract will end: Deandre Ayton.

That summer is shaping up to be a big one for the Suns as it could also be the period in which Ayton will be up to sign his first restricted free agency contract following the conclusion of his rookie deal.

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Ayton signed a two-year contract with the Suns that can be extended to four through two team options, the first of which will presumably be picked up and kick-in come 2020.

However, there is still a good chance that the team will not have made the playoffs by the time both his extensions and the Oubre deal are up, so while Phoenix might actually be good at that point (I hate to continue to use this term but that is “relative” in regular season wins, not playoff appearances), the Suns may decide to opt for the first year team option for 2020-21, then rather let him reach a point of potentially taking the qualifying offer two years later, extend him before the start of his fourth season – which will be the same year that Oubre will become unrestricted.

Phoenix thus will have a need to re-sign two of their own to max contracts in the same offseason, adding those max’s to the one that Devin Booker is already on.

And again – potentially without ever making the playoffs.

Oh yeah – and the Suns are in the exact same situation with Mikal Bridges who signed a similarly structured (although admittedly less costly) deal as Ayton.

Mikal is thus a potential key to the Suns’ future with Oubre if he proves to be the next star (or at least the better all-around player) over the next two seasons than the newly re-signed restricted free agent.

In the interim, Phoenix could have a two-headed monster at small forward with Mikal and Kelly if both players play like the two-way athletes they have been billed to be.

Of course, while neither of their defenses are called into question (Mikal led all rookies with a 1.6 steals per game average while Oubre proved to be a solid lock down defender), their 3-point shooting each must take a step forward (Mikal shot 33.5% last season while Oubre made just 32.5% with Phoenix and owns a paltry 32.1% percentage for his career).

Hopefully Ricky Rubio is the right man to resolve their shooting woes.

dark. Next. The Phoenix Suns should refrain from trading for Russell Westbrook

Kelly Oubre’s contract extension is a big deal for the Phoenix Suns, and regardless of how much or for how long he signed, the team’s expectations in his statistical output will be high. However, the potential for a long-term contract has only been kicked down the road.