The Houston Rockets finally traded disgruntled superstar James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, shaking the sports world like an earthquake. As part of that three-team trade, the Nets sent Caris LeVert to the Indiana Pacers, and, in turn, the Pacers sent two-time all-star Victor Oladipo to the Rockets.
The only problem, though, is that Oladipo reportedly has no interest in making Houston his home.
According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent “wanted out of Indiana, but landed in another place he doesn’t want to be.” It is also believed that Oladipo still has the Miami Heat as his preferred destination.
Oladipo has a bit of a history when it comes to being a ‘moody’ player, but even so, you can’t blame him for not wanting stay on the sinking ship that is the Houston Rockets. The question is, could a team like the Dallas Mavericks make a trade deadline move for Oladipo and change his supposed preference currently is?
The answer to the first part of that question is ‘yes’, Dallas could potentially pull off a trade for Oladipo. As far as the second part goes, we believe star player can have his preferences changed by playing alongside current MVP-favorite Luka Doncic. But Oladipo should take Mavs general manager Donnie Nelson’s word for it over ours.
“Anyone who wants great looks and the ball delivered (perfectly), Luka is an open jump shot waiting to happen,” said Nelson in an exclusive Mavs Step Back Podcast interview.
“(Luka’s) so tall, and he can get into the paint because of his craftiness, you can post him up ... He’s (Larry) Bird-like with his passing when he gets in there. That sucker is delivered on the money to the far-side corner three or wherever, and it’s right in the sweet spot for a shooter. He’s a delightful player to play with if you’re a shooter or scorer. It’s a real luxury.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. is the prime example to look at in reference to what Nelson is saying.
Hardaway Jr., who was at one time considered the ‘tax’ the Mavs had to take on in order to receive Kristaps Porzingis from the New York Knicks, had a career-best year shooting the three-ball (nearly 40%) as Doncic’s backcourt mate last season. And for people who thought that might be a fluke, Hardaway Jr. is currently shooting 42% from deep on nine attempts per game through 10 games so far this season.
To Hardaway Jr.’s credit, he’s also put in a ton of hard work since being traded to Dallas, but the ‘Luka Effect’ is still very real. If Doncic and the Mavs can get this kind of production from Hardaway Jr., imagine what they could do with Oladipo who, again, was a two-time All-Star before suffering a leg injury a few years ago?
So far this season, Oladipo is averaging 20 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals per game while shooting 36% from deep. One would assume that the price for Oladipo would be cheaper than usual, given that he’d be able to walk for nothing as an unrestricted free agent after this season if he wants to. But for Dallas to obtain a player of Oladipo’s status from a division rival, the cost could end up being a little higher than they’d want to spend.
Here’s what we believe could be a realistic offer Houston might consider:
Mavericks receive: Victor Oladipo
Rockets receive: Tim Hardaway Jr., Jalen Brunson and a heavily protected 2025 first round pick that would likely turn into two second round picks
Given how this current Mavs roster is playing right now, despite being down five players due to the NBA’s Covid-19 protocols, Dallas might not be as urgent to make a trade like this one. As well as Hardaway Jr. continues to play, the right move might be to just stick with what you know ... unless somehow a guy like Bradley Beal becomes a realistic possibility.
READ MORE: How Can Mavs Trade For Bradley Beal?
Besides, there’s a much better chance that Hardaway Jr. will re-sign with the Mavs this offseason than Oladipo, if Oladipo truly prefers to end up in Miami.
Regardless, the Mavs are “never patient” and always looking to improve. Rumors of the Mavs being interested in Oladipo and Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine swirled around Draft Week in late November. It remains to be seen if Dallas is still interested in pursuing Oladipo, but if they are, it might be better in this particular case to wait until the offseason to do so instead of taking a risk and overpaying a division rival for a potential half-season rental.
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