The Philadelphia 76ers still don’t know what will happen with James Harden. So they added some insurance.
One of the last remaining free agents, Kelly Oubre Jr. signed with Philadelphia on a one-year deal. The swingman averaged a career-high 20.3 points per game last year, despite playing through a hand injury suffered the first week of the season. Oubre also averaged 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game, though just 1.1 assists.
While he has his limitations as a defender and a decision-maker, adding Oubre on a veteran minimum deal is a low-risk, high-upside signing for Philadelphia. They lost wings Georges Niang and Jalen McDaniels in free agency, along with guard Shake Milton. Before adding Oubre, the 76ers were looking at Furkan Korkmaz and Danuel House Jr. as their backup wings, both of whom were barely in Philly’s playoff rotation.
Oubre does a few things quite well. His speed and jumping ability stand out on a talented but athletically-limited roster. Oubre immediately becomes one of the team’s best dunkers, along with Tyrese Maxey.
He isn’t disciplined defensively, though, which is something that frustrated teammates during his one season with the Golden State Warriors, but he does get a lot of steals and blocks for a small forward. Philadelphia likes that he can create his own offense, something they’ll need if Harden holds out or Joel Embiid needs rest.
Ourbre doesn’t particularly pass, but that’s less of a problem if he’s playing with Philly’s reserves. He can put the ball in the basket, and won’t be stealing touches from the more perimeter-oriented 76ers reserves.
If it doesn’t work out? Oubre is only making the veteran minimum, which means the 76ers can easily trade him or cut him if it’s not working out, if he’s constantly standing in the wrong spot on offense or if they need salary ballast for an eventual Harden trade.
For Oubre, it’s a chance to rebuild his value and prove that after five years playing on lottery teams, he can contribute to winning basketball. It’s a big pay cut from his $12.6 million salary last year, but the short-term financial sacrifice could pay dividends in the long run.
Best of all, Sixers team president Daryl Morey could get his favorite thing in the world with this signing: A bargain. Oubre might not be a perfect player, but he might be the perfect fit for this Philly roster.