Victor Oladipo Seems Confused About His Future With the Pacers
This week we learned Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo had a habit of asking opposing to trade for him in front of his teammates. Now Oladipo has denied that he wants a trade and has said he's excited to play for new Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren. So which is it?
Oladipo's career has been a bit crazy. He went from three-star recruit to All-American during his three years at Indiana and parlayed that success into being the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. After showing some promise in three years with the Orlando Magic, he was shipped to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016 and played second fiddle to Russell Westbrook for a season.
Then came a career-making move, where he was sent to the Pacers as part of the Paul George deal in 2017 and immediately became a star. He exploded upon arriving in the Circle City, establishing career-highs in points (23.1), rebounds (4.6), assists (4.3) and steals (2.4) per game in his first season. He made his first All-Star team, won the NBA's Most Improved Player award, was named to the All-Defensive first team and third-team All-NBA. He was a legitimate star.
Unfortunately, that was the high point of his NBA career. Oladipo suffered a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee in January of 2019, ending his season early. He struggled to return to full health during the 2019-20 season and hasn't looked like the same player consistently since the injury. Now he either wants out in Indy or is fully bought in, no one seems to know.
The Pacers don't currently have a roster built for a championship run and Oladipo has said he wants to win. He still has a ton of value if teams believe he's healthy and he's only 28, so maybe the best move here would be for the Pacers to move him. They clearly prioritized taking the ball out of his hands when they overpaid for Malcolm Brogdon before the 2019-20 season. Could that move have been a signal that Oladipo's days were numbered? After all, they shoveled $85 million into Brogdon's lap but haven't given Oladipo a contract extension.
The Pacers have Brogdon, T.J. Warren, Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner and others on the roster already. While Oladipo makes them better, he may not be a great fit given what the team already has.
Oladipo may just be doing damage control by committing to the Pacers. He's got one year and $21 million left on his contract and could be a hot target at the trade deadline if he does start the year in Indiana. We'll see what happens but at this point it feels like Oladipo is confused about his future.