The Miami Heat’s backcourt depth took another hit over the weekend with reserve guard Victor Oladipo‘s season-ending injury. Oladipo tore his patella tendon in the Heat’s 121-99 NBA playoff first-round Game 3 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.
Miami Heat guard Victor Oladipo has suffered a season-ending torn patellar tendon in his left knee, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Just another injury the two-time All-Star will work to overcome. 🙏🏽
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 23, 2023
Is Victor Oladipo’s Tenure with Heat Over After Suffering Season-Ending Knee Injury?
Oladipo Goes Down in Heat Victory
The 30-year-old guard hurt his knee late in the fourth quarter as he drove to the basket and tried to plant his left leg to rise for a layup attempt. His leg gave way, and he crumpled to the court in pain. Oladipo finished with eight points, two rebounds, and two steals.
This marks the second injury to a rotation wing for eight-seed Miami in its ongoing series against top-seeded Milwaukee, which the Heat take a 2-1 lead into Game 4 on Monday night. In Game 1, starting shooting guard Tyler Herro saw his season end due to two broken fingers in his right. It was Herro’s injury that allowed Oladipo to return to the rotation.
Oladipo played well in his two playoff appearances. He totaled 22 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 23 minutes. The 6-3 guard shot 52.6% from the field and 40% from the 3-point line.
Oladipo and Herro’s injuries are not the only Heat players banged up in the series. Bam Adebayo is dealing with a left hamstring strain, and Jimmy Butler is dealing with a bruised glute. Adebayo is considered questionable Adebayo is listed as probable for tonight’s contest, while Butler is doubtful, per Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang.
Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Giannis Antetokounmpo are all on the injury report for Game 4 between the Heat and Bucks https://t.co/fJNyaC9qYP
— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) April 24, 2023
While Adebayo and Butler’s status is decent news for Miami, if either player cannot go, that would put further strain on the Heat’s bench. Gabe Vincent, Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, and possibly Haywood Highsmith are already projected to see more minutes due to Oladipo’s injury.
Olidipo Health Concerns
Given the situation, the big question surrounding Oladipo is whether he be back with the Heat next season.
Oladipo signed a two-year, $18.2 million deal with Miami last summer, with a $9.45 million player option for 2023/24. Oladipo will almost certainly pick up the option, as he would unlikely garner that on the open market. Given his lengthy injury history and middling production this year.
The two-time all-star ruptured the quadriceps tendon in his right knee during the 2018-19 campaign. He then underwent a second operation on the quad late in the 2020-21 season.
Oladipo’s knee issues flared up again before the start of this season, causing him to be sidelined until December. He remained relatively healthy until Saturday night, appearing in 42 regular season games. However, Oladipo had the worst season of his career, producing 10.7 points while shooting just 39.7% from the field and 33.0% from the 3-point line.
There has been no timetable given for Oladipo’s return to the floor. It can take a player anywhere between six months-to-up-to a year to be healthy enough to return to the court.
Victor Oladipo Causing Heat Cap Problems
Oladipo exercising his option is problematic for the Heat. The Heat projects to be well above the luxury tax line, which may reduce flexibility due to new CBA rules aimed at teams above one or both tax aprons.
With Oladipo picking up his option, Miami would have $171 million committed to eight players next season. The 2023 luxury tax threshold is set at $162 million.
The Heat will likely exceed the second “apron” of $179 as they are expected to exercise Highsmith’s $1.9 million team option. Their No. 18 first-round draft pick is slated at $3.5 million. They have over $27 million in cap holds.
Going past the second threshold would mean that the Heat would likely be unable to re-sign Max Strus or Vincent this off-season. They also would have trouble signing other free agents for more than the minimum.
The Heat Do Have Options
Miami does have a few options regarding its cap if Oladipo opts in. Miami could make a trade in what essentially would be a salary dump. Lowry and Robinson would be the primary candidates to be traded. Lowry is in the last year of his contract.
While buying out Oladipo will not alleviate the Heat’s cap issues, it is an option, particularly if Oladipo has to miss the majority of next season.