76ers Stay or Go: Did Kelly Oubre Jr. Play Himself Out of 76ers’ Price Range?

76ers Stay or Go: Did Kelly Oubre Jr. Play Himself Out of 76ers’ Price Range? Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (9) reacts in front of New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) after scoring during the second half of game three of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers’ roster is likely to undergo another revamp during this offseason. Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey are the only two players locked in to be on the roster at the beginning of the 2024-25 season. The Sixers have decisions to make about the future of 13 players from their 2023-24 roster. They are likely to possess roughly $65 million in salary cap space heading into free agency this summer.

In the fourth installment of the “76ers Stay or Go” series, let’s discuss whether Kelly Oubre Jr. should remain in Philadelphia.

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When the Sixers signed Oubre to a one-year contract for the veteran minimum late last offseason, expectations for his production were not very high. He developed a reputation throughout his career as someone whose numbers often looked  better than what his actual impact on winning was. Motivated to show he can be an impact player, Oubre showed up to Philadelphia and far outplayed his contract.

Oubre averaged 15.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game for the Sixers. After starting the season as a reserve player, he quickly earned his way into the starting lineup. He showed growth as a player, changing his shot diet to include more shots at the rim through both drives and off-ball cuts. The 28-year old also made strides as a passer. He dished out 2.3 assists per contest over his final 22 games of the season. On the other end of the floor, Oubre evolved from being a non-factor to becoming one of the team’s go-to perimeter defenders in the postseason.

The Sixers reportedly want to re-sign Oubre, a no-brainer considering his impact on the team this past season. The interest appears to be mutual. Oubre spoke after the Sixers were eliminated in the playoffs about what he values in free agency and the potential of staying in Philadelphia.

“I just want to be loved. At the end of the day, I want to go to somewhere where they respect and they love me,” Oubre said, via Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports. “It’s been nothing but love here, of course. So at the end of the day, I feel as if there’s unfinished business and a lot of things to be done — and a lot of work to get better and to get us back here past this point and this threshold that Sixers fans have been wanting to get past for so long. I feel as if I kind of failed because we didn’t get past that. I’ve got to just reflect, talk to my family, and sit down and work on the next steps here.”

Playing under head coach Nick Nurse is also something that could lead to Oubre remaining in Philadelphia.

“Oh yeah. He’s the best coach I’ve played for, straight up,” Oubre said, via Sean Kennedy of Liberty Ballers. “It’s just his savviness. And he’s a rock star for real, so I can get with that. And he also coaches me tough. He understands what he expects of me, and he expects me to go out there and do it. But I just have to exceed expectations like I’ve always tried to do.”

Oubre’s play this past season effectively rehabilitated his value. It is going to take much more than a veteran minimum contract to keep him in Philadelphia. The Sixers’ interest in adding another star player this offseason is well known. In that case, the Sixers will hope to use the room mid-level exception, valued at $8.1 million, to re-sign Oubre. However, there could easily be a scenario where another team offers Oubre more than $8.1 million per season. The Sixers could avoid that possibility by signing Oubre to a higher amount as long as it does not make them exceed the salary cap. Considering the team’s plans on adding a third star, the Sixers likely want to avoid doing anything that would lower their salary cap space going into free agency. The Sixers’ preferred route to retaining Oubre’s services would be the room mid-level exception.

The Sixers should definitely have a desire to keep Oubre in Philadelphia. He showcased his ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor. The nine-year veteran also proved he could be productive either as a starter or coming off the bench. By the end of the season, Oubre was arguably the Sixers’ most important player outside of Embiid and Maxey. He proved to be a good fit next to the Sixers’ star duo. His performance withstood the tests of the bright lights and high pressure of the playoffs. Oubre will undoubtedly have multiple teams interested in signing him this offseason. Hopefully the Sixers will work out a way to keep the energetic, versatile forward in Philadelphia.

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