The Victor Oladipo saga in Indiana keeps getting better and better. According to a report from J. Michael of the Indy Star, the Pacers All-Star guard made some interesting pleas to his opponents during last season. Per the report, Oladipo asked “Can I come play with y’all?” during games ... in front of his teammates! Some of the teams mentioned specifically include the Raptors, Knicks and Heat.
The Oladipo trade rumors have been swirling since the Pacers were swept out of the playoffs by the Heat in the first round in 2020. Indy fired coach Nate McMillan, who was just hired as an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks. The Pacers are bringing in former Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren as new head coach. Dipo is in the final year of his contract at a cap hit of $21 million, so the salary is manageable. But how much does Dipo have in him?
The biggest concern for a team trading for Oladipo is the injuries. Dipo ruptured his quad in January 2019 and missed most of last season as a result. There were plenty of reports saying Oladipo wanted to play more but the training staff wouldn’t allow him to return early to not risk re-injury. Oladipo had initially decided to not opt into the season restart in Orlando before changing his mind and playing. He wasn’t really effective and the Pacers were eliminated swiftly.
The comments during the season are interesting. If Dipo wanted out of Indy before, there’s a chance his struggles were really a lack of motivation. This isn’t a good look for someone like Oladipo, who is viewed as a veteran leader. It also could mean if a contending team lands Oladipo, he could be much more motivated. The Heat were mentioned in the report and could make some sense. Miami is about to lose Goran Dragic in free agency (assuming he doesn’t re-sign). A backcourt of Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Oladipo is very deep and very difficult to deal with on both ends.
If the Raptors lose Fred VanVleet via free agency, Oladipo might not be a bad rental with one year left. If he performs well enough, Toronto can keep him around for a few more seasons and remain competitive in the East. Even if FVV re-signs with the Raps, Oladipo would be able to fit under their cap with Marc Gasol and possibly Serge Ibaka leaving.
Ahhh yes, and we get to the Knicks. All the New York outlets are saying Dipo to the Knicks makes a lot of sense. This is mostly because it’s risk-free. He’s on a one-year deal. If he exceeds expectations, you can keep him around. If he doesn’t, you let him walk in free agency next offseason. I’ve personally seen Oladipo in New York during the offseason heading to the gym to workout, so he clearly spends time there. The Knicks need a guard desperately and Oladipo can help out R.J. Barrett.