If the Warriors were a convulsive operation, run by a front-office prone to fits of temper and impulse, those Kelly Oubre Jr. lukewarm trade rumors would become scorching reality by Friday afternoon.
After Oubre’s mindless and maddening performance Thursday night against the Suns, who traded him to the Warriors in November, CEO Joe Lacob would sprint over to hand the phone to Bob Myers, telling his general manager to swap Kelly for a box of rice or bucket of ice.
Oubre was that bad in a 114-93 loss in Phoenix. His stat line was ghastly: four points, 1-of-11 shooting, including 0-of-5 from deep, with four rebounds, one assist and one brutal turnover.
One night after submitting his best game as a Warrior in a win over Minnesota, he found his nadir against his former team.
“It’s always emotional coming back to a team you played for,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He might have been too hyped up. I don’t know. He just had one of those games. Things just didn’t go his way. Even his dunk came out. So, the ball just didn’t go in for him.”
Understand, though, Oubre had plenty of company in giving poor performances. The entire team, including Stephen Curry (game-high 27 points but overall minus-23) and Draymond Green (minus-17), contributed to the mess.
But Oubre stood out for the sheer volume of glaring nothingness. The puzzling shot selection, a couple no-pass possessions and several defensive lapses that are beneath him and simply don’t happen when he is fully engaged.
“It’s tough,” Curry said of Oubre’s game against his former teammates. “I didn't talk to him before the game or doing it about that specifically, about what it's like to play against his former team. But you know he probably wanted it really bad.”
If this were atypical, the Warriors could move on. Forget about it. Chalk it up to one night of despair. But this is becoming the Oubre Experience. Active and fabulous one night, silly and selfish the next. A soothing massage one game, a migraine the next.
It’s quite a dizzying ride and obscenely expensive, considering he’s total cost will run between five and six times his $13.3 million salary.
Oubre has eight single-digit scoring games, reaching double digits in the other 11. He has two games with at least 20 points, five with six or fewer. His defense ranges from truly spectacular to relatively MIA.
Forgive the Warriors if, privately, they are questioning whether they have the stomach to ride out all this rising and falling. They surely can’t be blamed for pondering how they will manage the process, or if they can at all.
At 10-9, it’s easy to get itchy and feel the urge to do something.
“We’re still looking for consistency at both ends,” Kerr said. “Our defense is up and down, and our offense is up and down. Hence, the season is up and down.
“Right now, we can’t really trust anything that we’re doing consistently. We can do things well, periodically, but we just haven’t put it together.”
The coach was talking about the Warriors, as a team. The comments are accurate. Andrew Wiggins – yes, that Andrew Wiggins – has been the most consistent player this season.
But those comments also apply to Oubre. He started the season playing good defense and shooting as if he was new to the purpose of scoring. Until Thursday, his shooting was trending up. In the eight previous games, he shot 42.5 percent from the field, including 35.9 percent from distance. The Warriors would take those numbers and gladly pay the cost.
For now, the Warriors will contemplate their options. They’ll determine whether this process takes days or weeks or months. Or maybe they’ll simply stay with it, anticipating that at some point Oubre will become a net positive.
He has that in him. There was no indication of it Thursday night, and not for the first time.