Kelly Oubre Jr. bounced around this offseason. He was traded from Phoenix to Oklahoma City in the Chris Paul deal, but before he even had time to unpack his bags in OKC he was flipped to the Golden State Warriors. Oubre is being asked to fill some big shoes on both ends of the court with the Warriors, he is the replacement for Klay Thompson (who is out for the season with a torn Achilles).
Oubre was introduced as a Warrior on Monday and did a media tour, including a stop on the “Damon, Ratto & Kolsky,” show on 95.7 The Game in San Francisco. One of the questions Oubre was asked was what it will be like playing for Joe Lacob and a Warriors ownership willing to spend (Golden State will be deep into the luxury tax this season) as opposed to playing for Robert Sarver in Phoenix, an owner with a reputation for pinching pennies and sticking his nose into basketball operations. Via Nick Friedell of ESPN:
“You just hit the nail on the head… I can play for an owner — somebody who actually cares about the organization and not just the perception of the organization on the media end of it. It’s all about the foundation for me, man. You have a beautiful foundation, can build a beautiful [future].”
Oubre likely speaks for a lot of former Suns players about Sarver — and a lot of Suns fans.
Saver’s Suns have missed the playoffs for 10 straight seasons, and he has stepped up and taken the blame for that. During his tenure, Sarver has done things like put goats in his GM’s office and has been heard yelling in the background of trade calls. He has clashed with agents, and the culture he built was at the heart of why the organization drafted Deandre Ayton over Luka Doncic (not that Ayton is a bad player, he should have a breakout season with CP3 feeding him the rock, but he’s no Doncic). And that’s just the stuff that is public; there is more.
The Suns did take on salary this offseason in a smart move, bringing in Chris Paul to be the floor general and provide the more intense locker room culture the franchise needs. The Suns are still nowhere near the luxury tax, but they look like a team ready to break that playoff drought (and optimism is high after their 8-0 run in the bubble). There are rumors around the league Suns star Devin Booker is frustrated with Sarver and has eyes elsewhere, although everyone denies that publicly. True or not, the fact that it’s easy to believe it’s possible says plenty about Sarver’s ownership and the steps the Suns need to take to keep their best player long term (Booker is in only the second year of his rookie contract extension, but in today’s NBA the clock is always ticking with stars).