Not too long ago, Victor Oladipo would have been a shoo-in to receive a max contract.
Oladipo will turn 28 on Monday, and he is essentially entering the prime of his basketball life. Yet his career has already taken numerous twists and turns.
The former No. 2 overall pick was blossoming into a two-way star with the Orlando Magic prior to being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder ahead of the 2016-17 season. Oladipo was still productive, but he also had the lowest usage rate of his career playing alongside Russell Westbrook.
But Oladipo would get another fresh start when the Indiana Pacers acquired him as part of the Paul George trade. In fact, Oladipo would cement his status as one of the best combo guards in basketball.
He averaged 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists while leading the NBA in steals at 2.4 per game. Oladipo also posted career-high marks in usage rate (30.1) and true shooting percentage (.577), per Basketball Reference. This was supposed to be the guy who would the Pacers reassert themselves as contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Unfortunately, Oladipo suffered another setback in January 2018. He suffered a ruptured quad tendon, an injury that would force him to miss the next 12 months of action. Oladipo returned to the floor at the end of January, but he was a shell of his former self, averaging just 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting less than 40 percent from the field.
Now, Oladipo's future is in question.
The Pacers had engaged him in extension talks prior to the start of the regular season, and Ian Begley of SNY.tv reported Indiana "broached" the idea of a four-year, $80 million extension.
But there are a couple interesting factors at play. For one, Oladipo may not have the chance to suit up again this year because of the extenuating circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic. Second, he will be in the final year of his deal next season, one that already pays him more in average annual value ($21 million) than he would make with the proposed extension.
If the Pacers table extension talks again, they run the risk of Oladipo testing the market after next year. But at the same time, he had a small sample size in his return, and he is still something of an unknown commodity coming off a devastating injury.
Begley reported teams around the league are intently watching Oladipo's situation in Indiana because there is a chance he could hit the open market next summer.
Bulls Making 'Minor Changes' to Coaching Staff
The Chicago Bulls and new lead executive Arturas Karnisovas have moved swiftly to assemble the front office for next season.
Karnisovas recently made former Philadelphia 76ers executive Marc Eversley the team's new general manager, and it appears the Bulls are also targeting some changes on the bench.
While the status of Bulls head coach Jim Boylen has not changed, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic reported the team is making "minor changes" to the coaching staff. Mayberry also reported Karnisovas wants his head coach to have "full autonomy in choosing his staff while the revamped front office focuses on player acquisitions."
Most Bulls fans might prefer more sweeping changes, starting with Boylen, who has the second-worst winning percentage in franchise history among all coaches with 100 or more games.
Despite hiring Karnisovas to oversee a perceived overhaul, Boylen still has the backing of ownership, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. But Boylen's relationship with some of Chicago's young players—notably shooting guard Zach LaVine—has seemed rocky at times, and it is possible the front office will look for a fresh start.
In any case, there is plenty of movement in Chicago as Karnisovas and Eversley look to establish a culture of winning and continuity.