Victor Oladipo’s contract continues to creep up on the Indiana Pacers and the two sides discussed a four-year, $80m extension before this 2019-20 season began – talks which didn’t go far. A number of teams are said to be monitoring his situation.
Oladipo, who turns 28 on Monday, is set to hit unrestricted free agency next summer. His situation has caused intrigue and is being followed leaguewide, according to reports.
SNY’s Ian Begley reported that the two sides discussed a four-year, $80 million extension, but those talks didn’t go far. Other sources suggest Indiana’s pre 2019-20 season offer was perceived as insulting to Oladipo, compared to his other teammates.
After enjoying an All-NBA 2017-18 season, the guard was set for his first All-Star berth during the following campaign – but sustained a gruesome leg injury against the Raptors on January 23 last year.
After a year out with recovery and rehab, he made his long-awaited return against the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 30.
In his absence, big man Domantas Sabonis earned maiden All-Star honours this term while bolstering their scoring options by signing Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon to a four-year, $85m deal last summer.
2019-20 stats comparison
Sabonis: 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds, 5 assists per game in 34 minutes
Brogdon: 16.3 points, 7.1 assists, 4.7 rebs in 30 minutes
Oladipo, whose progress was stifled significantly by his injury, didn’t have ample time to settle into rhythm before the league’s suspension in mid-March. He averaged 13.8 points per game on 39.1% shooting, alongside decreases in assists (3.0) rebounding (3.2) and three-point percentage (30.4%) – playing 13 games during that spell.
At his athletic, exciting best? Oladipo is a max player. Right now though, he isn’t and that’s perhaps why the Pacers tried to take advantage while saving some cap space long-term before the season began.
Myles Turner is owed $60m (plus bonuses) over the next three seasons, while Sabonis penned a four-year $74.9m extension which begins in 2020-21. Brogdon too, has three years and $65m left on his current contract.
What’s next? Why a trade could be possible down the line
The Pacers have historically been willing to make concessions in order to finalise player deals, which given their attitude, is not hard to see why. They are perhaps the NBA’s most cost-conscious franchise – having never paid luxury tax in its current form. The last time they did so was during the 2005-06 season, when it was far less punishing financially.
Having ranked 23rd or lower in team salary across the past five seasons, Indiana play in one of the league’s smallest markets and have been owned by the same person for nearly 40 years. If another side offers Oladipo the max on the open market, whether he deserves it or not, the Pacers’ salary constraints make it difficult to match that.
Opportunities to trade for stars in their prime years are rare. If they made Oladipo available, there would be no shortage of suitors willing to take the risk across both conferences. If Indiana are reluctant to pay their former All-Star, then someone else will.