“I’m number three for the Phoenix Suns, small forward. I’m super excited about that.”
The Phoenix Suns announced earlier this week that they re-signed Kelly Oubre Jr. to a multiyear contract. General Manager James Jones marked bringing him back as a top priority this summer after Oubre’s impressive play last season for the Suns.
“He said since day one that he wanted to be here,” Jones said. “We’ve said that we love Kelly all along and we wanted him to be a part of our future. We both made it happen.”
The Suns acquired Oubre from the Washington Wizards on Dec. 17 via a trade that sent Trevor Ariza back to D.C. Oubre went on to average 16.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1 block – all career-best marks – in 40 games with the Suns.
“James found me in D.C.,” Oubre said. “He gave me an opportunity. It’s just been a blessing ever since. Obviously, the numbers don’t lie. You see how my game evolved when I got here. It happened the right way… It just felt like home.”
The feeling of being at home was amplified by the love and support Oubre felt from Suns fans. Oubre and Deandre Ayton coined the nickname “The Valley Boyz” in January, and the name instantly gained traction amongst Suns players and fans as the entire Phoenix community gravitated towards the movement.
“It’s a family,” Oubre said. “It’s been a beautiful thing to see because that’s the whole city of Phoenix. We are all Valley Boyz and Girlz, it’s not just the team. It’s a community of people riding behind us, at the end of the day. We feel that support and the Valley Boyz will continue to grow because we’ll continue to get better.”
The effort and competitiveness that made Oubre such a difference maker and fan favorite on the court was not lost on Suns General Manager James Jones.
“He’s demonstrated over his career that he’s consistently gotten better,” Jones said. “He brings energy. He brings a passion for the game, regardless of the score. Those are the foundational characteristics and traits that you look for in players when you’re talking about building a core and building a foundation.”
During the offseason, Jones has worked to reconstruct the Suns roster to build a team that will demonstrate championship habits both on the court and in the locker room. Acquiring veterans such as Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes, drafting successful college players in Cam Johnson and Ty Jerome and bringing back Oubre all help in building around the team’s young core with Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges.
“We have a foundation now,” Oubre said. “Now, we can really get to work because we can start from day one working on good habits, continue those and buy into what Coach is saying. That’s really the challenge. We’re all talented, individually, but collectively together we can be something special.”
While Oubre is eager to get to work with his new Head Coach in Monty Williams, he unknowingly played a role in Williams choosing Phoenix in the first place.
“He was one of the reasons I was excited about the job,” Williams said. “For me, it’s a level of comfort to have somebody who has experience, but still has room to improve. I think it goes along with our competitive environment that we’re trying to promote and establish. I love his energy. I love his passion. Our conversations since I got the job have been about growth and comparing ideas and talking about more than just basketball. I’m anxious to get to know him even more as a person and certainly excited about his game and thankful that he’s back.”
The coaching staff is set. The foundation is in place. Now, it’s just a matter of time before we see Tsunami Papi and the Suns back on the court.
“I’m a Valley Boy,” Oubre said. “That’s all I’ve got to say. Straight up.”