NBA Rumor: Victor Oladipo Free Agency

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Victor Oladipo eyeing future with Rockets?

Guard Victor Oladipo exuded optimism about the Houston Rockets after his franchise debut, presenting quite a contrast to James Harden’s final comments as a member of the franchise. “I know that better days are ahead for the Houston Rockets, and I’m looking forward to being a part of those special days,” Oladipo said after his 32-point, nine-assist performance in a 125-120 road loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.

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The Indiana Pacers can offer an extension beginning at 120% of Oladipo’s salary for the 2020-21 season — a deal that would start around $26 million, a few million per year below what he could sign on a max contract next offseason as an unrestricted free agent. Oladipo, who suffered a torn quadriceps tendon in January 2019 and then struggled upon returning this year, could want to come back next season and try to prove he’s still the All-NBA player he was in 2018.

Hayward would return home (he was born in Indianapolis and went to high school in the suburb of Brownsburg), giving the Pacers a player to potentially replace Victor Oladipo on the wing. Oladipo is heading into the last year of his contract, and several executives around the league believe Indiana will shop him this offseason. Boston may not have the willingness to give up the kind of assets needed to take on Oladipo, but Turner might be attainable.

Ian Begley: And I would think that Oladipo is looking for a max contract when he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2021. So I wouldn’t be surprised at all, if the Pacers at least considered trading Oladipo because they know they may not be able to resign-him. I think if you’re the Knicks or the Nets, you have to gauge what you think Oladipo would be when he’s healthy because he’s coming off that significant injury, you have to gauge whether you’d be willing to commit a max salary to him next summer. I do know that some people with the Knicks are very high on Oladipo but I don’t know if top-decision makers are high in Oladipo.

Though the NBA saved itself from losing more than $1 billion by not canceling its season, the league will still suffer substantial revenue losses due to Covid-19. That will likely affect Oladipo’s next contract, as the players will see a drop in income available. Oladipo said his current concern is helping the Pacers in the NBA bubble and “continuing to strengthen my knee.” “I’m just focused on doing what I can to help my team the best way I can,” he said. “One day, it will all click again, and then I can worry about those other things when the time comes.”

Myles Turner on Victor Oladipo rumors

Since he’s come back to you guys, there’s been some noise about him looking ahead towards his free agency. And, you know, you’ve been around the league long enough now where you see this stuff all the time, but teams like the Heat get mentioned. From your perspective, what do you make of that free agency talk a year in advance? Myles Turner: I mean, it’s just the media doing what the media does. They have to gaslight certain situations, and you know I don’t think much of it, because like you said, it’s really a year out. Ultimately, it’s going to be up to him and the decision he wants to make, or the decision the front office wants to make. So, until then, all you can do is control what you can control and just hoop on the floor. I think if he continues to be himself, then he can kind of create his own destiny, so I don’t pay much attention to all that stuff.

Victor Oladipo opting out?

Brian Windhorst: The strange thing about this is that now Victor (Oladipo) is sort of reevaluating his opt out. And from what I understand, I mean, at least what I’ve been led to believe, I don’t know if it’s 100 percent true or not, his reevaluating is not to do with the 3 million bucks, although I can’t accept that it doesn’t figure into at least part of his thinking. But the fact that he’s gotten out and played five-on-five with his team and feels pretty good… From what I understand he looks back, from what I understand. He looks better than any Pacer down there, even the guys who are fully healthy. Now Malcolm Brogdon is coming back from COVID. so I don’t know what kind of condition he’s in, but I heard he’s the best guy on the floor.

Victor Oladipo eyeing move to Miami?

The chatter began with The Athletic’s Shams Charania noting the Heat’s interest in adding both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Victor Oladipo — the two players that I had identified a week earlier as Miami’s most likely targets in 2021 free agency. And now comes a Wednesday report from the Indianapolis Star that “despite rampant speculation that he could end up with the Knicks (he fired Leon Rose of CAA, then his agent who is now president of the franchise), the strongest preliminary indication is Miami” as his next team.

Although Oladipo made the All-Star team in 2018 and 2019, the combination of him having only one truly great season, the injury and having just one year left on his contract has many scouts and executives skeptical about committing to him on a big deal. “The tricky thing for me with Oladipo is this guy has had a relatively long career and he had one year at an All-NBA level and that’s really the only All-Star-level [year he’s had],” an Eastern Conference executive said. “Last year, he wasn’t as good before he got hurt. Previous [to Indiana], he wasn’t playing unbelievably, either.”

Although Oladipo made the All-Star team in 2018 and 2019, the combination of him having only one truly great season, the injury and having just one year left on his contract has many scouts and executives skeptical about committing to him on a big deal. “The tricky thing for me with Oladipo is this guy has had a relatively long career and he had one year at an All-NBA level and that’s really the only All-Star-level [year he’s had],” an Eastern Conference executive said. “Last year, he wasn’t as good before he got hurt. Previous [to Indiana], he wasn’t playing unbelievably, either.”

The Pacers’ offseason is more complicated than it seems on the surface, and it all starts with Oladipo. In a simple world, they could just sign Oladipo to a contract extension for whatever amount. The reality is more limiting — the Pacers are capped at offering $25 million a year in an extension, a 20 percent raise on the $21 million he’s due this season. Over four seasons, that’s still quite a deal — over $100 million, and one that would pay Oladipo until he’s 32.

In some ways, this limitation makes life easier for the Pacers. Instead of haggling with Oladipo over whether he’s a max player or not, they can throw their hands up and say the rules cap them at $25 million. It’s a fair offer, too, considering the injury concerns with Oladipo and the questions about paying him into his 30s. But in some ways, it makes life more difficult, too. If Oladipo decides he wants to bet on himself this coming season in the hope that he can get a max deal (four years, $150 million) and choose his destination, the Pacers are powerless to prevent it. The 2021 free-agent market will be flush with cash, too, so Oladipo will not lack for suitors.

Well, let’s start with Oladipo because this is a significant fork in the road for the franchise. They had some talks last fall before the season but shelved discussions until the summer — which is code for ‘we want more’ from Oladipo’s side. It’s difficult for me to imagine the Pacers going into the 2020-21 season without either an extension or trade for Oladipo. Fans will be thinking here’s the Paul George situation all over again, and since Indy is not a destination for free agents, the Pacers can’t let Oladipo walk for anything next summer.
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January 20, 2021 | 9:33 pm EST Update