This offseason, the basketball
world couldn’t stop talking about how Dennis Schroder’s one-year,
$5.9 million deal with the Boston Celtics paled in comparison to
the $84 million extension he turned down from the Los Angeles
Lakers months earlier.
It was an unfortunate outcome
for Schroder — and another notable free agent who was available
this summer could probably relate to what the point guard was going
Victor Oladipo reportedly turned
down two lucrative extensions over the past year, then proceeded to
sign a veteran-minimum deal (worth $2.4 million) with the Miami
Heat once he hit unrestricted free agency this
Sure, Oladipo’s situation is a
bit different because a significant quad injury impacted his stock,
but it represents another cautionary tale for players.
In late 2020, the Indiana Pacers
offered Oladipo a multi-year extension that would've paid him more
than $25 million in Year 1 and increased by 8% each season,
according to former NBA
general manager Ryan McDonough. If it was a four-year extension, that
would’ve been $112,896,000, and McDonough added that the deal was
the most that the Pacers could offer under CBA rules. Oladipo
reportedly declined the offer because he wanted to hit unrestricted
free agency and leave Indiana. (IndyStar.com had a similar report, stating that the Pacers were prepared to
offer a four-year, $112 million extension at the end of last
season, despite Oladipo’s injury history.)
Once Oladipo turned down the
extension, Indiana started weighing its options and, several months
later, traded him for Caris LeVert (who is signed through 2023 on a
relatively team-friendly deal).
Then, Oladipo had
opportunity to get a big payday.
This time, it was with the Houston Rockets. After acquiring Oladipo
in January as part of the James Harden blockbuster trade, Houston
offered Oladipo a two-year, $45.2 million maximum contract
extension according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
It was the most the Rockets could
offer at the time, but Oladipo rejected it because he thought he
could get a better contract as a free agent in the 2021
The Rockets shopped him prior to
the trade deadline in late March, but his value had plummeted.
There wasn't much of a market for Oladipo, so the Heat were able to
acquire him for Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and a 2022 first-round
Oladipo played in just four
games with Miami before undergoing season-ending surgery due to a
ruptured quad — the same quad that required season-ending surgery
back in Jan. 2019.
That’s how a two-time All-Star
ended up on a veteran-minimum deal, just three years after being
named to the All-NBA Third Team.
So, what’s next for
While he’ll be sidelined to
start the year, his surgeon has said he’s “very optimistic” that
Oladipo could be cleared “by November.” While it’s concerning that
he continues to have issues with the same quad, the surgeon who
operated on Oladipo this time around had some interesting comments
about the guard’s 2019 procedure.
"I repaired the quad tendon and
did it a little differently than [he had] it done before,"
Jonathan Glashow told
ESPN. "The quad wasn't
really hooked up. It was torn, and I reattached it. I was amazed he
was playing with what he had... I think he's going to play really
well again. [The surgery] went extremely well, and it's healing
beautifully. I'm confident he'll play next year."
This puts Oladipo’s struggles
into context; the surgeon was surprised that he was able to play at
all last year. And while he struggled relative to his usual
production, he still averaged 20.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.7
assists, 2.6 threes and 1.3 steals in 29 total games with the
Rockets and Pacers last year prior to a brief four games with the
Yes, he was inefficient,
shooting 40.8% from the field and 32.6% from the three-point line.
Ever since his first quad injury in 2019, his shooting percentages
have dipped. (He returned for 19 games in 2019-20, and he shot
39.4% from the field and 31.7% from deep.)
With that said, Oladipo has
never been super-efficient; even in his second All-Star campaign,
he shot 42.3% from the field and 34.3% from three. Aside from
shooting 47.7% from the field during his All-NBA season, he's never
shot above 44.2% over the course of a season.
Over the course of his career,
he’s shot 43.8% from the field and 34.7% from three.
Oladipo looked like a shell of
himself last season, but that isn’t surprising after hearing his
surgeon explain that his “quad wasn’t really hooked up.” Once he
heals, perhaps he’ll look more like himself. Oladipo is the
ultimate low-risk, high-reward signing for the Heat since he’s
costing them very little, and they can walk away at any
Miami enters the 2021-22
campaign with a very talented core that consists of Jimmy Butler,
Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, P.J. Tucker and Tyler
Herro among others. The Heat don’t need Oladipo to return to his
All-NBA form; they’re just hoping he can make an impact on both
ends and complement their stars come playoff time.
For Oladipo, this is an
opportunity to show that
he’s healthy and capable of contributing to a contender.
Then, after his one-year, prove-it
deal expires, he’ll be able to hit free agency again next summer
when he's 30 years old. Also, since Miami won’t ask Oladipo to do too
much or try to rush him back from injury, it’s the perfect
environment for the 29-year-old to get right.
One year ago, Oladipo was being
mentioned as one of the top free agents available in the class of
2021. Now, he’s being treated like a complete
If he’s able to get healthy,
Oladipo seems like a lock to outperform his contract and
potentially become one of the biggest steals of this