As of now, most of the NBA’s free agents have signed to their respective teams, while few quality players are still left in free agency. The Cleveland Cavaliers already made their main moves, signing Max Strus, Georges Niang, Ty Jerome, and trading for Damian Jones. Since the first few days of free agency, however, the Cavaliers have been stagnant when it comes to making any substantial moves.
One of the best free agents still left available is Kelly Oubre Jr., the small forward who played in Charlotte last season. Oubre Jr. has had a very solid NBA career, as he’s averaged 12.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game. Not to mention, he averages 1.4 steals per-36-minutes for his career, being a sturdy defender through multiple stops.
Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor mentioned in his recent article that the Cavaliers are interested in Dallas’ Christian Wood as well as Charlotte’s Oubre Jr. and PJ Washington. All three of these players have a good chance to walk somewhere else in free agency, and Oubre Jr. is probably looking to get a long-term deal, as he’s 27 years old as of now. Cleveland definitely could use Oubre Jr. as he’s a very talented swingman.
What would Oubre bring to the Cavaliers?
Looking at last season, Oubre Jr. averaged 20.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game in 48 contests. Those numbers look great, but when you realize he’s a poor 3-point shooter (31.9% from distance last season), as well as Charlotte being one of the worst teams last season, I think that Oubre Jr. just had good-looking stats on a poor team.
That isn’t to say Oubre Jr. isn’t a quality NBA player. However, considering his lack of shooting abilities, as well as his lack of playmaking could really hinder the Cavs’ chances of making a deep postseason run.
Let’s look at his positives, though. He’s a great slasher, and he loves getting to the rim. From 0-3 feet from the rim, Oubre Jr. shoots 66.0%, which is a good number considering his 6’7″ and lanky frame.
Oubre Jr. is also a solid defender. He likely won’t ever earn any All-Defense selections in his career, but he can hold his own on the perimeter, and even in the post a bit. He has a 7’3″ wingspan, which is great for defending on the perimeter. His defense wasn’t as good last season, maybe because of Charlotte’s lack of success. Perhaps he wasn’t trying as hard on defense since his team was a lottery team for practically the whole season.
Cleveland has a logjam at the small forward spot already. Max Strus, Caris LeVert, Isaac Okoro, Dean Wade are all capable of playing the small forward spot. Oubre Jr. also played 58% of his minutes at the shooting guard spot last year. All of those guys besides Wade, plus Donovan Mitchell and Ty Jerome can play shooting guard. Safe to say, if Oubre Jr. comes to Cleveland, he’s going to have to fight hard to get minutes.
Also, Cleveland has only a bit left to spend, but definitely could afford Oubre Jr. if they really wanted to hand out the money. Cleveland will become cash-strapped soon, as next offseason, Evan Mobley will be eligible for a rookie extension, and it’s hard to see him getting anything lower than the maximum. Isaac Okoro will also be a free agent next offseason, and not to mention, Darius Garland’s max contract kicks in this season.
If Cleveland really wants to get Oubre Jr., they will have to do a hard look at their cap sheet and decide if they are willing to give a multi-year deal to him. I would assume Oubre Jr. wants financial security, as he’s at his prime right now, so he’d probably want a deal longer than the two years he got back in the 2021 offseason.
Oubre Jr. would probably not be the 6th man for the Cavs, maybe not even the 7th man. I think one of either Caris LeVert or Max Strus will be the 6th man, and Georges Niang has a good shot to be the 7th man. Oubre Jr.’s fit in Cleveland might not be the best, but he definitely could and would be utilized well under J.B. Bickerstaff.
Kelly Oubre Jr.’s a talented player, and I believe he’s going to get himself a contract sooner than later. It’s hard to see him not getting a deal at all before the season starts, and the Cavaliers could be that team to give him a deal. I don’t expect Oubre Jr. to be back in Charlotte next season, and I think he’s going to want to go to a good team.