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NBA Trade Rumors: Kelly Oubre Jr. Linked to Cavs, Suns, Raptors Prior to Injury

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 7, 2023

Charlotte Hornets guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) handles the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Los Angeles Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
AP Photo/Kyusung Gong

Numerous NBA teams were interested in trading for Charlotte Hornets wing Kelly Oubre before he underwent successful surgery for a torn ligament in his left hand.

NBA reporter Marc Stein wrote on the eight-year NBA veteran: "Cleveland, Phoenix and Toronto had been circulating as teams that had trade interest in the Hornets' Kelly Oubre Jr. until Oubre was forced to undergo left hand surgery this week expected to sideline him for four-to-six weeks."

The surgery occurred on Jan. 5. Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic reported that Oubre will be out four-to-six weeks and further noted that the ex-Kansas star had been playing through the injury, which occurred to his shooting hand during the first week of the regular season.

The 27-year-old Oubre is in his eighth NBA season. He is averaging a career-high 20.2 points on 42.1 percent shooting (30.8 percent from three-point range) and 5.1 rebounds for the Hornets in 35 games (30 starts).

The 6'6" wing is a free agent next offseason after signing a two-year, $24.6 million contract with the Hornets before the 2021-22 campaign.

The Hornets don't appear to be going anywhere this season after an 11-29 start despite a very impressive 138-109 road win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.

The team is still second-last in the Eastern Conference and seven-and-a-half games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the final spot in the play-in tournament. They sport the league's worst offensive rating and the No. 26 defensive rating, per Basketball Reference.

Therefore, trading a player like Oubre who could walk after the season makes a lot of sense as the team figures out how to build around superstar LaMelo Ball.

It also makes sense that numerous teams are interested in him. Stein mentioned the Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors as possibilities. The Cavs could use some scoring help on the wing (especially off the bench) as they remain in the Eastern Conference mix, and the Suns are shorthanded at wing with Jae Crowder (inactive, trade request) and Cam Johnson (knee injury) currently out.

The Raptors sorely need more bench production. The struggling 16-23 team sits No. 26 in bench scoring (just one ahead of the Cavs) and heavily relies on starters Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet on a nightly basis. Adding Oubre would provide some relief.

The NBA's Feb. 9 trade deadline falls right in the middle of the previously reported four-to-six week timeline for Oubre's injury recovery. We'll soon find out if teams still take interest as we get closer, but on the surface, he can still a valuable piece to add to any team's starting rotation or bench as the second half of the season begins.