New Sun Kelly Oubre: ‘If you’re in my way, you’re getting destroyed’
Kelly Oubre Jr. wasn’t surprised the Washington Wizards put him on the trade block. The team is off to a 12-18 start, and bloated contracts put the team in a position where re-signing the restricted free agent next summer looked out of the question.
He became more expendable as the Wizards struggled, with reports of locker room discontent leading to the expectations the team would be active as a seller. So Washington moved one of their young assets in Oubre, plus guard Austin Rivers, to the Phoenix Suns for veteran Trevor Ariza in a deal that became official Monday.
“I wasn’t really surprised (to be traded), man,” Oubre told Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “Anything can happen, it’s a business. I was just on the business side of basketball, so (now) I make a new home in Phoenix.”
While Rivers is expected to be released by Phoenix, Oubre Jr. and Ariza each spoke as members of their new teams for the first time Tuesday.
Ariza returns to Washington after he spent 2012-14 with the Wizards.
He will start his first game Tuesday and is expected to have chemistry with stars John Wall and Bradley Beal as the team aims to pull itself out of a slump.
“They were struggling a little bit, but couldn’t have been struggling worse than what I was struggling with,” Ariza said of his new team, according to the Washington Post’s Candace Buckner. “Everybody has their things that they go through, it’s just about how you get through them or how you do what you do everyday to change them. Being here, I plan to come in and just try to work through whatever it is we’re going through at the time.”
Phoenix, which likewise is off to a poor start at 7-24, agreed to trade Ariza on Saturday, the first day he could be dealt after signing a $15 million deal with the Suns this past offseason.
While Ariza’s desire to leave an unexpectedly bad situation in Phoenix reportedly led to his departure, Oubre had known a trade could be possible all year long. He remained focused on staying positive with Washington through the lows that included a report the team was dangling everyone — from Wall to role players — in trade talks.
“What I will say is that it was definitely a lot of changes and people have to adjust to change,” Oubre said. “The energy was just a little off. That’s kind of what led to that story coming out like that. I can’t really speak on that. I just try to control on what I can control.”
In Phoenix, Oubre already knows fellow Kansas product Josh Jackson and star Devin Booker, the latter of whom was in his high school recruiting class. Booker went two picks ahead of Oubre in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Oubre expects to fit in well with a wing-heavy rotation that aims to use his length and athleticism to its advantage.
“Defense leads to offense. Just focus on that, just continue to keep that gameplan solid,” Oubre said. “I’m a confident individual but one thing I know I can control everyday is my effort and my energy. I will do that each and every night. My offense will follow. I’m not really worried about that because I know I can play.”
Asked to describe his mentality when he’s on the court, Oubre put it bluntly: “I’m trying to kill everybody, man. Straight up. If you’re in my way, you’re getting destroyed.”