Phoenix Suns: No, Kelly Oubre is not all of a sudden expendable

Phoenix Suns, Kelly Oubre (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Kelly Oubre (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns won eight straight games without Kelly Oubre, but that doesn’t mean that all of sudden he is expendable.

“What have you done for me lately?” is the most toxic mentality in any profession, yet unfortunately, it is too many people’s credo in the world of sports. Whether it is a coach, player, or equipment manager, executives and fans alike are quick to cut ties with a once-beloved member of their organization if they haven’t performed up to standard in recent memory. That seems to be the case with some Phoenix Suns fans and Kelly Oubre Jr.

After going 8-0 in the Disney bubble, Suns fans are walking around with the invincibility of Vince McMahon coming down the ramp with No Chance In Hell blaring in the background, and rightfully so. Sure, everyone is disappointed that undefeated streak didn’t lead to the play-in games, but the euphoria of being the current darling of the basketball world has, for the most part, outshined the sting of missing the cut.

For some, this high from Phoenix Suns basketball fueled by shots of Cam Johnson and lines of Mikal Bridges, has given them the hubris to think, “Why do the Suns even need Kelly Oubre? The team won eight games in a row without him! Trade him and get something in return!”

My response to that is, “You need a spacer. Here, have some water.”

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Kelly Oubre played a huge part for the Phoenix Suns this season.

I don’t want to diminish what the Suns did. No one thought they could go 8-0 in the bubble and the fact they did put the world on notice will live in franchise lore forever. It has given so many fans a much-needed spurt of excitement in an otherwise dismal world right now.

But as it often does, nuanced perspective can be a downer.

Let’s face it. While the Suns undoubtedly beat some great teams when they were at full strength, (ahem, LA Clippers), half of their wins came when teams had thrown in the towel before the tip. It isn’t as if the substitute players didn’t try to win. They did and gave the Suns a bit of a scare for a while, but it is important to keep in mind this magical run came with many teams’ stars or entire starting lineups on the bench for part or the entirety of the game.

Also, I know it is easy to be frustrated at Kelly Oubre for not playing when we all saw him running around and dancing on the sidelines during games mixed with impressive workout videos online, but don’t let that acute disappointment of him not pushing it bleed into outright dismissal of how talented he is.

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Remember, Kelly Oubre was the second on the team this season in points (18.7 per game), second on the team in rebounding (6.7 per game), second on the team in blocks (1.7 per game), third on the team in steals (1.3 per game) and first in the team in energy, swag, and highlight-reel dunks.

He won’t get it, but he should at least be in the conversation for the Most Improved Player this season. Is that really the guy fans want to dismiss simply because the team had a good stretch without him and maybe his assist numbers are lower than his teammates’?

The other unsaid assumption in this hypothetical trade desire is that the team can easily parlay him into a better player when it really isn’t all that easy. As we’ve seen in the past, making the trade for the sake of making a trade is not ideal, and the grass isn’t always greener.

I have seen recent rumors the Brooklyn Nets are in the market for a third star to go along with KD and Kyrie, but they already have a third star and his name is Caris LeVert.

I feel similarly with the Phoenix Suns and Kelly Oubre. Who can they realistically acquire who will provide more than what Oubre gives them?

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There is one understandable argument for trading him this offseason. This is Oubre’s last year on a relatively team-friendly deal of $15 million dollars. If he continues to play well, the team will have a tough decision the following offseason if they will be willing to pay the $20 million-plus he may demand or let him walk for nothing.

In theory, they could trade him now for a veteran who doesn’t present that same problem. But again, this is insanely easier said than done.

With all due respect to how well Cam Johnson played in Oubre’s place, the Rubio-Booker-OUBRE-Bridges-Ayton lineup was uncannily good for the Phoenix Suns this season and I don’t really see a reason to mess with it. If they can bring in a veteran via free agency to provide stability off the bench, then great, but let’s not act like this team is in shambles and needs a makeover by trading one of its best players (and most fun to watch).

Right now, this team is feeling as good as its fans. Now is not the time to sell the shoes that got them here in search of better buzz just because they haven’t worn them in a couple of weeks.

Next. Suns fans should be proud of what this team has accomplished. dark