Victor Oladipo became a member of the Houston Rockets two months ago, traded by the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Caris LaVert, acquired in the James Harden transaction. Oladipo then promptly turned down a max contract extension from the Rockets, choosing instead to play out the season and test the unrestricted free agency waters for the first time. Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday that it is now likely Houston moves on from the shooting guard before the deadline.
The wording there is interesting. The Heat and Knicks are out because they can just offer Oladipo a big deal in the offseason, but capped-out teams are willing to take the chance on a rental who could give them that extra boost they need. The pool of potential suitors has changed since the last time we tried to predict where he might end up. Oladipo has been pegged as perhaps the biggest name to get traded during an NBA trade deadline that may bring less action than ever this year. Thus, here are four teams he could end up with.
The Celtics are certainly a capped-out team with young players and picks to offer. Danny Ainge has never seen a player he didn't at least think about making an offer for. Even if Oladipo leaves in a few months, Boston could definitely talk themselves into a trade being worth the cost. They have a thousand young players on their roster who haven't shown much but have potential and all of their own picks going forward.
Oladipo would serve as a go-to option in bench minutes to take the pressure off Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown while adding another switchable defender for closing lineups, given Kemba Walker's weaknesses in that area. Plus, Boston can use their trade exception from the Gordon Hayward transaction to absorb Oladipo's salary, making a deal significantly easier.
Denver owns their next two first-round picks and have long needed an extra wing creator to help Jamal Murray when he isn't feeling it. Michael Porter Jr. could be that guy, but he isn't this season. Oladipo would be a perfect fit in the offense and, while he isn't quite the player he was pre-quad injury, could definitely be the difference between a three and a five-seed for the Nuggets with his scoring and defense.
To get him, Denver would have to give up Gary Harris, which is a tough exchange to make for a potential rental. But keeping their young core together and getting a few months to sell Oladipo on the beauty of Denver and their championship hopes is worth the cost.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors were in talks with the Rockets about Oladipo's services for a few weeks, but the Rockets' asking price was too high and Golden State backed out. But that price tag may have changed with the most recent news. If Houston was happy with landing, say, a package centered around Kelly Oubre and Kevon Looney, a discussion most certainly could be had. Oladipo would help Golden State's push for the playoffs this year as an additional steady veteran who doesn't need constant direction out on the court and could stick around for the long haul if he enjoys the famed culture Steve Kerr has nurtured over the last eight years.
Golden State isn't giving up the top-three protected Timberwolves pick they got in the D'Angelo Russell trade, but anything other than that is on the table. It wouldn't be the perfect trade for the Rockets, but it very well could end up being the best available.
Let's get wild, folks. The Raptors have predominately been in the news this week because of trade rumors surrounding Kyle Lowry and Norm Powell. Here, I posit they keep Lowry but trade Powell and Aron Baynes to Houston for Oladipo. Powell might be the best player the Rockets can get in exchange for Oladipo as a high-flying scoring wing capable of putting up big numbers on any given night.
The Raptors don't want to launch into a rebuild with Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam still in their primes. Oladipo gives them a path towards retooling rather than rebuilding. It might be tough to start Oladipo with VanVleet and Lowry given the size implications but Nick Nurse is definitely smart enough defensively to figure that out. Oladipo wouldn't make them championship contenders right now, but he could make them competitive enough to stay afloat this year and be a valuable recruiter if he decides to stick around past 2021.