Victor Oladipo went into free agency with his eyes open, determined to find what would be the best place for him.
Turns out, he was already there.
Oladipo signed his new contract with the Miami Heat on Thursday, a two-year deal with the second of those years at his option. Injuries and recovery have limited him to 12 regular-season appearances out of a possible 110 in his first season-and-a-half with the franchise, and both he and the Heat are banking on him being able to handle much more this coming year.
“I think the biggest goal for me is to show everyone that I’m healthy, and I can play a whole year — and also to show everyone that I’m one of the best players in the league,” Oladipo said. “So, everything else will take care of itself. And that’s what I’m focused on.”
Oladipo appeared in just eight regular-season games this past season while recovering from a second surgery to repair his right quadriceps tendon. He was a two-time All-Star with Indiana before getting hurt in January 2019. He returned a year later, wasn’t anywhere near the same player and Indiana traded him to Houston in January 2021. The Rockets didn’t keep him long before moving him to Miami, with whom Oladipo played four games in March 2021 before getting hurt again.
It took him most of last season to come back. He got into 15 playoff games for Miami this spring, playing much more in the postseason than he did in the regular season. Then came free agency, and Oladipo looked around and quickly decided Miami was his best choice.
“It was just the best deal for me, I feel like, and it kind of seemed like a lot of people were kind of shying away from me,” Oladipo said. “So, I think that coming back here and playing with the Heat was the best option for me. Now, I’m looking forward to running it back. I felt like we had a very good, strong opportunity to make it to the finals last year. That’s the goal this year.”
Since initially getting hurt in January 2019, Oladipo has been limited to 60 regular-season games. But the Heat entered the offseason convinced that Oladipo — a past All-NBA player, All-Defensive team player and even a Most Improved Player award winner — only needs time to regain his form.
“He hasn’t had a summer like this and probably four summers,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said when the season ended. “Yeah, you’re going to see a totally different Vic next year by the time he gets to training camp. He’s going into the summer physically able to work at his craft and he’ll get back to the player that people were accustomed to seeing.”
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports