Three years after dealing with the Paul George fiasco, the Indiana Pacers have re-entered the headlines, this time surrounding All-Star Victor Oladipo. The 28-year-old struggled in this season following a ruptured quadriceps tendon in his right knee in 2018. Oladipo averaged 14.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.6 assists on 39.5 percent shooting and 31.7 percent from three. In the playoffs, the All-Star showed flashes of 2017 Oladipo that made him a household name. In four games against the Miami Heat, he averaged 17.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists including 25 points in Indiana’s elimination game.
Indiana Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo Adds Fuel to the Trade Rumors
Murmurs of the 28-year-old surfaced during the NBA shut down with the Heat said to have interest in Oladipo. Following their elimination, these rumors re-emerged as the All-Star was seen fraternizing with Miami players. Since then, as many as five teams have emerged as potential suitors.
In a recent interview, Oladipo talks about wanting to win some hardware adding more fuel to the fire.
Oladipo has yet to directly demand a trade but the writing appears to be on the wall. The Pacers did all the hard work to find a home for Paul George and get back equal value. Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis both became All-Stars, signaling a bright future for Indiana but it all came crashing to a halt.
The Nate McMillan Effect
One has to wonder if the firing of Nate McMillan is playing a role in Oladipo wanting to leave. The 56-year-old agreed to a contract extension prior to the bubble before being suspiciously let-go after the Indiana Pacers were swept by the Heat. The move surprised many given McMillan’s success with Indiana which cultivated in a 180-136 record.
President of Operations Kevin Pritchard thanked McMillan for his contributions over the past four years.
Official Statement: pic.twitter.com/l9kMqiYEXh
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) August 26, 2020
This move remains one of the biggest questions of the NBA season. Why offer an extension to fire the coach a month later? The Pacers do not have the allure of a large market so they must lean heavily on culture and relationships to keep its players.
Oladipo rumors have been around for months but there appears to be a deeper issue within the organization.
Paul George Speaks Out Against the Indiana Pacers
During the shutdown, Paul George spoke out against the organization and its reluctance to spend money. Owner Herbert Simon supposedly didn’t want to take the leap, instead offering George lower-tier free-agent options.
Paul George says he had at the time, the best PF in the NBA ready to team up with him in Indiana
"They didn’t want to do it . . . I called my agent like, 'Man, get me up outta here. They don’t want to win.'"
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) June 23, 2020
These types of decisions impact smaller markets more because they rely on stars to be its drawcards. Finding a superstar player is hugely impactful for any team but has arguably double the impact for small markets.
Given George’s credibility of telling the truth, many question if what he says is true or false. I believe it is somewhere in between and with the NBA being a players league, words spread like wildfire. If Oladipo is moved, Indiana would have driven out George, Bojan Bogdanovic, Oladipo, Malcolm Brogdon, and potentially Myles Turner in four years.
What Lies Ahead?
This offseason stands to be an important one for the Indiana Pacers. If Mike D’Antoni becomes head coach, could it entice Oladipo to stay given the style of play? Should the All-Star seek a trade, it is in the Pacers’ best interests to wait. D’Antoni’s offensive concept can raise Oladipo’s stock and get more back for him in a trade. At the moment, Oladipo’s value is at an all-time low thanks to his continued recovery from a serious knee injury he suffered two years ago.
Indiana knows this could be make or break time regarding Oladipo’s tenure with the franchise and it’s up to them to decide which direction the team will go in.
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