All eyes on Kelly Oubre Jr.’s RFA status with Suns after thumb surgery
PHOENIX — Something is missing when you watch the Phoenix Suns the past couple of games. A presence, a certain energy, if you will.
That blank space was once occupied by Kelly Oubre Jr., the wing who the Suns acquired in late December and rapidly changed the dynamic around the team as fast as he became a fan favorite.
Due to high energy play that oozes swagger, a quick bond with his teammates that included him forming a signature handshake with each player and his overall personality, Oubre has clicked with the Suns.
They are at their best when he’s constantly impacting the game, all while blowing kisses to the fans and flexing his muscles.
But they are closing the year without him.
Oubre was ruled out for the rest of the season on March 22 due to a left thumb sprain that he had surgery on that day.
Before Wednesday’s game against the Washington Wizards, Oubre — in a thumb cast — said he’s 10 days out from being able to move the thumb.
Oubre said the thumb had been “sore for some time” and in the last game he would play of the season on March 16 against New Orleans, he said he felt the irritation more while catching himself falling.
The 23-year-old has been in the best form of his young career, averaging a career-high 16.9 points per game with the Suns on a career-best 45.3 field goal percentage.
According to him, there wasn’t anything much mentally he changed.
“I’ve been the same me since the beginning,” Oubre said, noting the Wizards beat writers in the room that covered Oubre’s first three-plus years in the league can attest to that statement.
What did change was the scenery.
In Phoenix, Oubre has mentioned numerous times a younger group he has more in common with has made the transition seamless.
“It’s just like-minded individuals who are very competitive, who want to be great,” he said. “We all like the same cool stuff.”
Oubre’s future is the inevitable discussion point, as he’s a restricted free agent this offseason.
He’s been emphatic in saying he wants to stay, telling 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo earlier this month he wants to create a legacy in Phoenix with the likes of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges.
Like he said at that time, Oubre emphasized again on Wednesday how the situation plays out is up to others.
“I trust my team and I trust everybody around me to make things work,” he said.
Most importantly, Oubre also backed up what he sees as possible for the young group together.
“We definitely are gonna do something legendary if we keep on this pace,” he said.