This Monday it was reported by Jared Weiss of The Athletic that Victor Oladipo wishes to move on from the Indiana Pacers organization this summer.
Although the news was relatively out of the blue, it wasn’t particularly shocking. The Pacers star guard has one year left on his contract, and there have been rumors for months that he and the organization were not on great terms. Many speculated that his consideration of possibly not playing in the NBA restart in Orlando had more to do with his relationship with the Pacers than his health. He did opt to play in the end, and the Pacers were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Miami Heat.
There will be no shortage of interest for Oladipo. The 28-year-old has proven that at his best he can be one of the best two way players in the league, and be a leader on and off the court. In the 2017-18 season he made the All-NBA and All-Defensive teams, while also bringing home the most improved player of the year award.
The last two years have been less than ideal for him, however. In January of 2019 he suffered a ruptured quad tendon in his left knee. This injury kept him out for 12 months, and upon return near the end of the regular season this year he was clearly not the same player. He averaged 14.5 points per game in the 19 regular season games he played on a pedestrian 39% from the field.
Nevertheless he should have plenty of suitors if the Pacers feel that they can’t work something out with him and decide to pull the trigger on the trade. With a rather unexciting crop of pending free agents, teams looking to win now will have their eyes on players like Oladipo. Here are four of the most likely and interesting landing spots for the former Indiana Hoosier if Kevin Pritchard can’t smooth things over with the team’s centerpiece.
Not the first team that most people would think about when they are talking blockbuster trades, but counting out the Hawks in this situation would be foolish. They are still incredibly young, but Atlanta simply can’t afford to keep losing much longer. Trae Young is entering his third season, and has not experienced much winning at all in his first couple of years. If they want to keep him around, they need to start contending for a playoff spot.
There are few backcourt mates that would be better to put alongside Trae Young than Victor Oladipo. The Hawks were one of the worst defensive teams in the league last year, in large part due to Young’s shortcomings on that side of the ball. Oladipo’s value on defense alone is an incredibly valuable attribute for this team. Not to mention what he brings in terms of veteran leadership and playoff experience, something Atlanta desperately needs. If they feel that he can get back to close to what he was before the injury, he will be a fantastic second option for this team, and make them a factor in the East right away.
There are also few teams that have the kind of trade assets that the Atlanta Hawks do. They have a plethora of young wings that were all first round picks (Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish). They should be able to put together a package that includes one or more of these high-potential players and their sixth overall pick, along with a couple of their veterans to match salary, to create a very enticing package for the Pacers.
Alongside Young, John Collins, and midseason acquisition Clint Capela, Oladipo could make Atlanta a very competitive team in the Eastern Conference a lot sooner than many would have expected. It is always a risk trading for a player in the last year of their contract, but this is a deal that could bring a level of excitement back to Atlanta Hawks basketball that they haven’t had since 2015.
This would certainly be one of the more interesting narratives of the offseason. Oladipo started his career with Orlando, and after three successful seasons was rather inexplicably traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Serge Ibaka. He only spent one year there before moving on to Indiana, where he made Orlando look quite foolish for giving up on him so soon.
This scenario might be a longshot, and the Magic would certainly want to be sure that they could convince him to re-sign before they pulled the trigger. But on paper, Indiana and Orlando could make quite a mutually beneficial trade centered around Oladipo. The Magic have been stuck in no man’s land for quite some time now, having some success but never being able to make it past the first round of the playoffs. Their front office now has to come to grips with the fact that they need to shake things up significantly to be a contender.
To try to kickstart their rebuild the team decided to put Aaron Gordon on the open market. The fourth year player has begun to plateau, and Orlando has a rather crowded frontcourt. Given that he is slated to make over $18 million next season, the Magic may have a rather hard time finding a home for him. But if they can package Gordon along with their first round pick this year, and either another first rounder or Mo Bamba, they could pull this deal off.
Assuming that Orlando isn’t too tied to Evan Fournier as their starting shooting guard, Oladipo could be the perimeter scoring punch that the team has been looking for. Potentially adding another 20 points per game to a team that struggled to score for long stretches could make this team very dangerous, providing that Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz continue to have a positive progression.
If there is anything that this postseason has proven, it is that the Eastern Conference in its current iteration is wide open, and who’s to say that the Magic can’t be the next team to shock the world.
If it’s an NBA trade rumor, you can’t leave the Celtics out of the picture. Danny Ainge is never afraid to make changes to an already successful team, as shown by the Kyrie Irving trade. They have fallen short in the Conference Finals yet again this season, and trade buzz has already surrounded this team heading into the offseason.
If Oladipo is to join the green team in Beantown, he may not be the only Pacer headed over in the deal. Myles Turner has been another player floated around in trade rumors, and may not be a part of the Pacers future if Oladipo moves on. He also happens to be exactly what the Celtics lack. Daniel Theis was a serviceable center, but against bigger, stronger centers he would get eaten alive. To have an elite shot blocker and rebounder on the Celtics would sure up a huge hole for the team. Not to discount Oladipo’s potential impact on Boston though, as he would slide in perfectly next to Kemba Walker, and provide them with another athletic, aggressive wing.
For Indiana to give up two of their franchise centerpieces would mean a pretty hefty return no doubt. The obvious piece for the Celtics to structure this trade around is Gordon Hayward. He has regained some of the All-Star caliber talent he showed before his injury, but he hasn’t seemed to be a great fit with the team, and considering Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are virtually untouchable he would probably be the first to go.
Hayward is also a native of Indiana, and played at Butler, so a homecoming could breathe new life into his career. Beyond Hayward the Celtics have plenty of assets at their disposal. They would probably give up at least two of their three first round picks in this upcoming draft, and may also throw in Daniel Theis or Romeo Langford to get the deal done.
This would be a high risk deal for both parties involved, but few teams could put together a better package for Oladipo than the Celtics.
The thought of a healthy Oladipo on this team should be quite a scary one for the rest of the league. The Mavericks are one of the best young teams in the league, but this is a trade that could accelerate their timeline quite a bit if they play their cards right.
Dallas was one of the deepest teams in the league last year, and towards the end of the season their two European stars, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, really started to click. But when the playoffs came around, the lack of a second perimeter player who could create for himself and others allowed the Clippers to double team Luka Doncic more aggressively with few consequences.
Doncic is quickly becoming one of the best players in the entire league, but he needs a backcourt mate. Dallas has already reportedly shown interest in Oladipo. Bringing in a two-way aggressive guard like Oladipo might be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Mavericks. Oladipo has proven he can be successful as the go-to-guy, but he might be even better served as the second best offensive player on the court and more of a leader on the defensive end.
Given their depth, the Mavericks could make this trade happen and still have plenty of pieces to put around their new big three. Indiana would likely receive Dwight Powell, Delon Wright, and another one of Dallas’ young pieces. The Mavericks also have the 18th and 31st picks in this draft to throw in.
This may be the most likely of all the potential trade suitors to land Oladipo. If the organization can make this deal happen, the Lakers, Nuggets, and Clippers will all have to watch their back next season for the young Mavs.