Kelly Oubre Jr. isn't a stranger to trades. In his six seasons in the NBA, he has played on four different teams. It's the hardest part of the job.
So when rumors about Oubre started circling Tuesday afternoon, it was nothing knew for him. But that doesn't make it any less challenging to deal with.
"I tell players this all the time, and I told Kelly this: this is where you really earn your money," Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters after Wednesday's 123-111 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. "The basketball part is the easy part. But packing up your family and leaving, getting injured, getting booed, or reading your name in trade rumors, those things are not easy. I was really proud of Kelly. He handled it really well ... He came in and had one of his best games. He was really the key to us finally gaining some traction in the game in the second quarter."
Kerr sent Oubre a text message Wednesday afternoon, reminding him not to let the rumors get to his head. After the game, Kerr approached Oubre again, letting him know how proud he was.
The rumors surrounding Oubre include him being traded to the New Orleans Pelicans for Lonzo Ball and J.J. Redick. According to Kerr, a coach called the Warriors on Tuesday morning to simply ask about Oubre, but no offer was formally, or informally, presented.
These conversations and rumors are nearly impossible to ignore. Oubre was well aware of them. But he didn't believe they affected his game. If they did, they only had a positive impact.
Oubre scored 16 points in the second quarter of the Warriors win -- the most he's ever scored in a single period. Through the 18 games Oubre has played in a Golden State uniform, and the six games he's played more with the second unit, Oubre's increasing comfort level with the team is showing. He has more confidence in what he is doing, which is leading him to him playing with better execution and efficiency.
"Just to be able to lead the charge, play with the guys and continuously bring energy to the second unit, it's an amazing slot for me," Oubre said. "To run, take my time, find my rhythm."
Oubre finished the night with 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block, and also brought something that won't show up in the box score, but was crucial to their victory: energy and showmanship. He took charges, flew for a poster of Naz Reid, and pulled another celebration from his repertoire.
"I like to perform," Oubre said. "My job is to go out there and perform and put on a show. Obviously, there are no fans this year so it kind of dumbs down that element to the game, but that's part of my job. To go out there and make people feel like they're on the court or feel the energy from the court. It's an unseen element to this game that I love."
He had a different tenacity Wednesday night. Perhaps it was just that someone needed to lift the Warriors out of the lull they started the game with. Maybe it was him getting his groove back after two early fouls sent him to the bench. Or, he was trying to prove something.
Whether it was to the Warriors directly, or to those outside the organization saying he shouldn't be here, he sent a message. It was clear on the court, but in case it wasn't, he spelled it out postgame.
"I am a Warrior," Oubre said. "Let's go get this f--king ring."