- Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.
New Golden State Warriors swingman Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a parting shot for Phoenix Suns owner Robert Saver on the day he was officially introduced as a member of his third team in just over a week.
Oubre, who was acquired by the Warriors in a deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, spent the first five years of his career with the Washington Wizards and Suns, was asked just how much different it will be playing for Warriors owner Joe Lacob and a front office group that has repeatedly proven it will spend what it takes to compete after playing for Suns owner Robert Sarver over the last couple years.
Sarver, who has owned the Suns since 2004, has developed a reputation locally and nationally for leading an organization in perpetual tumult — marked by a great deal of losing and a rotating door of coaching and front office hires.
“You just hit the nail on the head,” Oubre said, during an appearance on “Damon, Ratto and Kolsky,” on 95.7 The Game in San Francisco. “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, who enjoyed a breakout season last year in Phoenix scoring 18.7 points and grabbing 6.4 rebounds a game, believes he can hit the ground running with a Warriors team that needs him to pick up the slack created when Klay Thompson suffered a season ending Achilles tear during a workout in Southern California. Oubre expressed confidence that he could follow in the footsteps of Warriors stalwarts Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Thompson, saying he “100 percent” wanted to make the Warriors his long-term basketball home.
“As a young individual coming into this league, I’ve had to prove myself,” Oubre said. “I’ve had people calling me all types of — what they thought that I was as an individual, as a basketball player, yada yada … and I can really relate to the guys who have put the Hall-of-Fame marks on their own name when they had a lot of questions coming into the league as well,” he said. “I’m sure from a lot of the same people that are questioning me. So, I feel like we have a lot that we can relate to, and they’ve got each and everything they’ve gotten out of the mud. And that’s exactly where I’ve come into play, too.”
Oubre is looking forward to the opportunity to learn from Curry, Green and Thompson and is hopeful that he can work out a long term deal with his new team in the future.
“I’m obviously a younger individual who can really, really learn from how they were to handle these certain adverse times, and people saying ‘They weren’t going to be this [or that]’,” Oubre said. “Which they are now. And I want to show everybody that I can potentially be a Hall-of-Fame player as well. Who is better to learn from than guys like Klay, guys like Steph, guys like Draymond. Guys like everybody that’s been through this organization.”
The Warriors were able to acquire Oubre by bringing his salary into the $17.2 million trade exception created when the Warriors sent veteran Andre Iguodala to the Memphis Grizzlies in a deal last summer. Between Oubre’s salary for the season of $14.4 million, and the $68 million in taxes, Oubre’s addition is expected to cost the organization $82.4 million, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
When asked during his introductory news conference if he felt any extra pressure to produce after the financial commitment Lacob and the Warriors ownership group made to bring him to San Francisco, Oubre brushed off the notion.
“No,” Oubre said. “My job is to go out there and play basketball and get better each and every day, each and every game. Whatever the tax breakdowns go, you can leave that for the accountants who run the books for the NBA or the organization.
“That’s not my job to worry about any of that. So I’m happy to be here and I’m blessed to be in that conversation, but at the end of the day, I’m just here to play basketball.”
Oubre, who will turn 25 next month, is excited to learn from Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who also served as Suns president of basketball operations and GM under Sarver, from 2007-2010.
“The day before [Kerr] actually texted me after I got traded here, I was watching him on TV, obviously ‘The Last Dance'” Oubre said of the ESPN documentary series. “So it was just kind of like being a kid in a candy store to be able to play for a legend like that. It’s just been exciting. I told him today, ‘I’ll loosen up a little bit. I’m just in shock a little bit still that I can play for you and this organization. It’s been dope.’ He’s been one of the best out there and I’m happy.”
Oubre, who appeared in a recent promotional picture for the Suns as they showcased this season’s City Edition jersey, said he did not get to keep his jersey as the organization traded him for veteran Chris Paul soon thereafter.
“Of course not, they didn’t let me keep that, man,” Oubre said. “It had my last name on it, but I think they’re going to take the stitching out and give it to CP3.”
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