Pacers

Orlando, Next Season to Determine Oladipo’s Future

on

Pacers guard Victor Oladipo will sit out the NBA restart in Orlando– at least that’s what he told the media on July 3rd. After a few practices in the bubble, reports indicate Vic is now considering playing. He is under contract through next season, but can then become an unrestricted free agent. His health could determine how his free agency plays out.

 

For the 2020-21 free agency, Indiana’s front office is in a difficult spot. A player fresh off a serious injury, asking for a big contract is usually unsettling for a front office. Given his limited action the past two seasons, solid play in Orlando will boost Oladipo’s resume.

Earlier this year, the Pacers allegedly offered Oladipo a four-year, $80 million extension. Under that deal, he would earn less than new PG Malcolm Brogdon. The proposed extension would pay Oladipo less than his last contract. At the time, Indiana could not offer him a max deal. Thus, the front office was likely just seeing where Oladipo’s camp stood. Still, the offer was kind of insulting.

By all accounts, Oladipo wants max money. There are many worse max-contract players, and Vic is underpaid. This season, he is the 50th highest-paid player in the NBA. In a perfect world, Victor re-signs. He and the front office have generally shown an open and honest relationship.

However, the world is never perfect for small market teams. Below are some options for Victor and the Pacers.

Option 1: Pacers keep Oladipo

A contract extension and an unrestricted free agent contract are the two main routes the Pacers can use to keep Oladipo.

Extension Contract: 4 years, $112.9 million

Under the current CBA, a contract extension for Victor is likely to be four years long. It will offer less money than the alternative (UFA contract). An extension is a bargain for the Pacers, but unlikely because it undersells Oladipo. He understandably wants the most money possible.

Unrestricted Free Agent Max Contract: 4 years, $138.8 million

An unrestricted free agent (UFA) contract allows Vic to get the most money and perhaps a fifth year. It also lets him test other team payrolls, putting pressure on the Pacers. Unrestricted free agents are subject to offers from other teams. However, indications are Vic wants to stay, and the Pacers want him to. Right now it looks like Vic stays in Indy if the Pacers at least tie for the highest offer. Thus, an unrestricted free agent max contract is most likely.

Small-market teams like the Pacers historically struggle to land stars. Locking down a significant talent in his prime, with a team already built around him, seems the logical move. Injury or not, Vic has proven himself in Indiana.

Even in limited minutes this season, Vic showed some brilliance. Plus, Vic attended IU and is exceptionally well-received in the community. The Pacers are in win-now mode, and no upcoming free agent fits the team like Vic.

Logistics

From 15 roster spots (and MONTA ELLIS!!!), the 2019-20 Pacers payroll is $115 million, second-lowest in the NBA. Perhaps the front office plans to sign a max contract player! Brogdon, Domas Sabonis, Myles Turner, TJ Warren, Jeremy Lamb, and Ellis (who is not an active roster member) are under contract for 2021-22.

Adding Oladipo’s expected salary brings the 2021-22 payroll to over $116 million. Six 2021-22 Pacers will collectively make more than the entire 2019-20 roster. Without trading one of the six under contract for 2021-22, the Pacers will likely be in the luxury tax.

The front office must be extra efficient in pursuing free agents. There will be added pressure on the Fort Wayne Mad Ants to cultivate affordable talent and production. This scenario is all right if it means bringing back Oladipo to the Pacer core.

Option 2: Trade Vic

A trade assumes a falling out between Oladipo and the Pacers. While this is unlikely, relationships change. The following teams are likely to have interest in Victor should he hit the trading block:

Atlanta, New York, Phoenix, Miami, Dallas, and Denver

If he does not return to Indy, assets will suffice as an alternative. Doing so seems slimy now, but might not be in the future. Plus, as seen with the Paul George fiasco, trades can be non-zero-sum games. The Pacers need length, quickness, and versatility at SF and PF.

Of the interested teams, the most enticing offer for the Pacers comes from Denver. The Nuggets could offer Michael Porter Jr. and Gary Harris. Both have Indiana ties.

Harris’ contract is a cap hit, but GM Kevin Pritchard can make it work. TJ Warren and Jeremy Lamb may be thrown into the trade mix. Denver will likely want to get rid of Harris in pursuit of Oladipo.

Getting MPJ from Denver will be difficult, though. Porter Jr. is the prototype for what the Pacers need, and he is still very young. In terms of potential, Porter Jr. is elite. If the Pacers land Porter Jr., that would be huge. In Denver, Porter’s minutes are spotty at best. An offer of more commitment from a past home may sway his camp.

Denver could start Murray-Oladipo-Warren-Grant-Jokic. Indiana would have Brogdon-Harris-Porter-Sabonis-Turner. A Denver-Indiana trade involving Oladipo is one of the few that may benefit both teams.

From Atlanta, Phoenix, New York and Miami, trade packages will likely include draft picks and young players. Atlanta is looking to pair  Trae Young with a star. Phoenix, if they can hold on to Devin Booker, likely has a similar strategy as Atlanta. Both ATL and PHX can seriously benefit from Oladipo’s defense.

Knicks ownership is in a rut, and adding fresh talent is ideal for them. Also, reports indicate New York will pursue Oladipo on the trading block. Dallas is rumored to want in as well, but doing so requires significant salary restructuring. Luka Doncic will likely earn a supermax contract and Kristaps Porzingis will make $158 million over five years.

Miami may be a preferred destination for Oladipo if he opts for a trade. Miami is nearly in title contention already, and the Heat are defensively oriented. Plus, Indiana winters and Miami “winters” hardly compare. But with the exception of Tyler Herro and perhaps Duncan Robinson, Miami cannot offer much.

Most of these trades are “something is better than nothing” scenarios. Hopefully these are avoided. Ironically, fans initially deemed the trade bringing Oladipo to Indiana as one, and it turned out fine.

Option 3: Let him walk

Going through the season without making a deal and without finding a willing team to trade is extremely unlikely. However, it is possible. Perhaps Victor has a change of heart last minute. Or the Pacers turn on him. Unlikely, given history, but possible nonetheless.

Teams interested in offering Oladipo a max contract likely include New York, Atlanta, Detroit, and Charlotte. These organizations are set up for a (co) star guard and have the funds. Better teams will likely throw less money at Vic. Since Oladipo is a stellar combo guard with excellent defense, interest from contenders will not be nominal. At this time, short of a Pacer contract, it is unclear whether Victor prefers a more lucrative contract with a worse team or a smaller deal with a contender.

Summary

Current indications are Oladipo will be an Indiana Pacer through 2021-22 and beyond. Indiana will likely sign him to a four or five-year max contract. If a falling out occurs, he will probably find himself in Denver, Atlanta, Phoenix, Dallas, New York, Miami, Charlotte, or Detroit.

About Will Deane

Recommended for you

Powered by themekiller.com