Over the past couple of months, there have been back-and-forth reports regarding Victor Oladipo’s frustration with playing in Indiana. Several times, Oladipo has openly refuted these reports, claiming that he did not, and would not request a trade.
Then, the NBA bubble rolled around, and after appearing in 13 games prior to the league’s shutdown, then having four months off in between, Oladipo threatened to sit out Indiana’s home stretch. Upon realizing that this would cost him a portion of his salary however, the two-time All-Star decided to suit up, despite only performing at a fraction of his potential.
With Oladipo hitting unrestricted free agency in 2021, he is looking to secure the bag. Reportedly (and understandably given the fact that he may never be as good as he once was), the Pacers are reluctant to offer him a maximum contract – something that would be in the ballpark of four years, and $160M.
Ultimately, the discrepancy between Oladipo’s side and the Pacers’ front office over what his financial value is has created some turmoil within the Pacers’ organization. The latest news coming from J. Michael of the IndyStar is that during this past season, Oladipo would ask other team’s players if he could come play with them, right in front of his own teammates.
Among the teams whom he inquired about? The Toronto Raptors.
I wrote a few weeks ago about how Toronto may look to facilitate a sign and trade involving Fred VanVleet, if they wanted to land Oladipo in Toronto. Now, with all of the unrest that has occurred in Indiana, the trading price for Oladipo has likely dropped far below face value.
Masai Ujiri has a history of taking advantage of teams in sticky situations, and poaching their injury-ridden stars at a low price. Might Victor Oladipo be the next one to come North of the border, and enjoy Alex McKechnie’s magical healing treatments?
If Toronto does reciprocate the interest that Oladipo has in playing for the Raptors, a package of Norman Powell, Terence Davis Jr., and a second round pick may be enough to get the deal done at this point. It would eat into the Raptors’ cap space a little bit for this summer, however with Oladipo coming off the books in 2021, would not affect the Raptors’ chances of landing Giannis Antetokounmpo.
If Fred VanVleet ends up re-signing, in addition to the Raptors trading for Oladipo, Toronto’s backcourt all of a sudden gets stacked with three All-Star level guards. Figuring out which of Lowry, Oladipo, and Fred VanVleet goes to the bench would take some ego management gymnastics unto itself, however if there’s anybody who can get people to buy into the team’s goals, it’s Nick Nurse.
All in all, calling Kevin Pritchard with an offer centered around Powell and Davis looks like a low-risk, high-reward move. If Oladipo can emulate 80% of his pre-injury self, the Raptors become infinitely better, and are a real threat to make it to the 2021 NBA Finals.