After reports suggested Victor Oladipo could be a trade target of contending teams around the league, the two-time All-Star has rejected those claims according to recent reports.
"I know there have been people saying that I have asked players to trade for me. That's just not true, period. I love my teammates, I cherish the state of Indiana and I'm focused on leading this franchise to a title," Oladipo told The Athletic.
Of course, the fact that Oladipo may want to stay in Indiana does not categorically rule the possibility of a trade, though the 28-year-old staying with the franchise could significantly alter the trajectory of this year's player movement period.
Let's take a look at how this report impacts various franchises around the NBA.
The simple reason why the Pacers may still look to trade Oladipo is his pending free agency.
While he may say he wants to lead the franchise to a title, unrestricted free agency is 12 months away, and the Pacers may want to cash in on their All-Star asset if they believe he is going to walk away for nothing after the 2021 season.
Playing just 19 games last campaign, a healthy Oladipo would finally give Indiana a close look at the combination of he and Malcolm Brogdon in the backcourt.
Acquired via sign-and-trade last offseason, Brogdon assumed the main ball handling responsibility, forming a nice pick-and-roll connection with Domantas Sabonis. Like Oladipo, Brogdon has his own health concerns, with a variety of ailments and injuries sidelining him for 19 games in his first season as a Pacer.
There is a real sense of deja vu with this scenario, given Indiana opted to trade Paul George 12 months out from his own unrestricted free agency in a deal that landed both Oladipo and Sabonis.
If Indiana has questions around the health, fit or willingness to pay a max extension at the conclusion of the season, Oladipo could still be on the way out.
The Heat franchise has long been connected to Oladipo, with many believing the dynamic guard's first preference as a free agent would be South Beach.
Complicating this belief is the widely known idea that Pat Riley is formulating a plan to launch a bid to acquire back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in the summer of 2021. In sticking to the plan for next offseason, the Heat were likely not going to be a trade contender for Oladipo, but this does open the door for them to sign veteran free agent guard Goran Dragic to a short term extension.
While a plantar fascia tear ruined Dragic's Finals series, his overall playoff performance put his name squarely on the free agent radar. Averaging 19.1 points and 4.4 assists per game, Dragic would back the clock to play some of the best basketball of his career. Used primarily as a back up during the regular season, his insertion into the starting lineup was one of the catalysts for the Heat's remarkable run, and there is no doubt they would love to have him back at the right cost.
Time will tell whether another club poaches Dragic's services with a multi-year deal, but for now, Miami will keep their eyes locked on Oladipo from a distance.
As the Milwaukee Bucks walked off the court with their season over after just five games in the second round against Miami, one thing was clear: They need to add versatility and shot creation to their halfcourt offseason in the postseason.
The difficult part of the equation for the Bucks is a lack of enticing trade assets that makes any deal for Chris Paul or Jrue Holiday a difficult task. With that in mind, the Bucks interest in Oladipo makes sense, given his injury history has dented his trade value in combination with his pending free agency.
At his best, Oladipo is a dynamic scorer off the dribble, with an ability to pull up from range or finish at the basket. This version of Oladipo playing alongside Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton would catapult the Bucks to another level offensively, even if it is only for one season.
Given Antetokounmpo's own free agency continues to be a dark cloud hovering over the franchise, the Bucks may need to take a risk to prove they are doing everything they can to put a championship contending team on the floor beside the MVP.
Kevin O'Connor from The Ringer recently reported the Bucks have shown interest in veteran San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills, once again highlighting their desire to add to the guard rotation. Mills is a terrific player, but with each at their best, the ceiling is significantly higher with Oladipo.
Sacramento's Bogdan Bogdanovic remains a possible alternative sign-and-trade option for the Bucks.
Los Angeles Lakers
With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, Markieff Morris and others entering free agency this offseason, the terrifying prospect of the Lakers adding a third All-Star to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis is legitimate.
A healthy Oladipo would provide the Lakers with scoring punch at the guard position they lacked throughout their championship run and would add another string to their bow for the title defence.
Withdrawing the Pacers star from the trade block could see familiar faces return for the purple and gold ... or they could go down the unlikely path of attempting to lure Chris Paul and his hefty deal to their books.
Dallas Mavericks - With Tim Hardaway Jr., Seth Curry and Delon Wright on mid-level salaries, Dallas has the tradable assets to acquire help alongside Luka Doncic at the guard spot. If Oladipo is off the table, the Mavericks may hold off for 12 months and maintain flexibility for the Antetokounmpo sweepstakes.
Toronto Raptors - If the Raptors are priced out of the Fred VanVleet sweepstakes, they may be looking for a backcourt partner for Kyle Lowry. Once again, Oladipo's deal is an attractive one because in 12 months time ... you know where I'm going with this.
New York Knicks - The Kicks with cap space is a dangerous proposition. You know they will spend it but you just have no idea what on. The franchise has also been linked with Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Fred VanVleet.
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