In news that shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, the Wizards will pick up the team option on the fourth year of Kelly Oubre’s deal, according to Candace Buckner of the Washington Post. The move ensures Oubre will be under contract in Washington until the end of the 2018-19 season and that they’ll have the opportunity to match any offer sheet he signs in restricted free agency that summer.
Even before Oubre’s strong start to the season, there shouldn’t have been any doubt about whether or not the team was going to pick up his option. He’s already developed into a key role player with a chance to develop into something more as he continues to grow.
The interesting thing to monitor now is how the team decides to go about working on a new deal. Oubre will have a bit of leverage because he’ll be entering free agency at the same time that John Wall’s supermax extension kicks in. So they face a similar dilemma to the one they faced this summer with Otto Porter: They might have to pay more than they want to ensure they don’t lose him.
At the same time, the restricted free agent market has been very boom or bust as cap space has tightened up. Some players, like Tim Hardaway Jr., Tony Snell, and Mason Plumlee, have been able to leverage their situation to get good deals. Others, like Nerlens Noel and Alex Len, were stuck in no man’s land and had to settle for taking low, one-year qualifying offers after failing to drum up interest around the league.
Working out an early extension next summer before Oubre hits free agency might be the safe move for both sides. It ensures Oubre gets some long-term security and keeps the Wizards from getting in a situation where they’re paying significantly more than they want because Oubre signs an offer sheet that drives up their luxury tax.
Tony Snell’s four-year, $44 million deal with the Bucks this summer should be a good comp for Oubre and the Wizards when they enter contract negotiations. Oubre is younger and has a bit of a higher ceiling, so he might be able to fetch a little more, but that’s a good place to start discussions.
As of yet, there is still no word on what the team plans to do Chris McCullough, who also has a fourth-year team option on his deal. If Washington does not pick up his option, he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.