Oubre returns with Suns for first game against Wizards
WASHINGTON — It didn’t take long for a familiar face to return in a new uniform. Less than a week after being traded, forward Kelly Oubre Jr. and his new team, the Phoenix Suns, will face off Saturday against his former Washington Wizards teammates.
Oubre helped the Suns win their fourth straight game on Wednesday in a surprising victory over the Boston Celtics. And while he’s happy to be playing in Phoenix, he’s still not sure why the Wizards made the deal.
“I could get into theories why (Wizards general manager) Ernie (Grunfeld) and (vice president of business operations) Tommy (Sheppard) did what they did,” Oubre told NBCSports Washington about the Dec. 17 deal that saw veteran Trevor Ariza come back to the Wizards. “At the end of the day, that’s not my job. I’m on the business aspect of it. I have to make my home in Phoenix.”
The young Suns are hoping that Oubre can be part of a developing core of players that can lift the moribund franchise out of last place. Phoenix (8-24) is riding its first four-game winning streak since the 2014-15 season.
“It goes right in line with what we’re trying to build,” veteran Jamal Crawford told The Arizona Republic.
For the disappointing Wizards, nothing is going right. Coming off lackluster road losses to Atlanta and Houston, Washington remains on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff ledger.
The Wizards continue to tinker with their roster, signing former Knicks forward Ron Baker on Thursday. Baker was waived by New York on Dec. 13. In three seasons with the Knicks, he averaged 3.3 points and 1.8 assists, and he hopes to take on a complementary role in Washington.
“This team has two All-Stars that are really good with the ball in their hands,” Baker said. “(I’m) just gonna try to play off them and be that player everyone wants to play with.”
Baker is just the latest addition, along with recent trade acquisitions Ariza and forward Sam Dekker, as Washington looks for answers to the early season funk.
“He’s a scrappy, physical defender. Plays hard, good cutter,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks told reporters Friday when asked about Baker. “We’re just trying to continue to bring guys (in) that are going to play hard, that are going to compete. Ron fits a lot of things that we need.”
The Wizards will be without forward Otto Porter against the Suns. The forward will miss his fifth straight game with a knee injury.
This game will have a little extra meaning for Oubre, who until last week had spent his entire career with Washington. The forward has yet to even make it to Phoenix with the Suns on an East Coast swing, making his trip to D.C. even more awkward.
“I’m pretty even keel right now. I think (Saturday) might be a different story,” Oubre told reporters. “It’s a little different for me. I’m the same individual, though. My path stays the same no matter where I’m at.”