NBA Rumors: Latest Trade Buzz on Victor Oladipo, Buddy Hield, More

Martin FennFeatured Columnist INovember 24, 2020

NBA Rumors: Latest Trade Buzz on Victor Oladipo, Buddy Hield, More

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    It wasn't too long ago that Indiana Pacers combo guard Victor Oladipo was staking his claim as one of the best backcourt players in the NBA.

    The No. 2 overall pick in 2013 had productive seasons early in his career with the Orlando Magic, but he has blossomed into a star with Indiana.

    Oladipo made his first All-Star team during the 2017-18 season, averaging 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists while also shooting a career-high 37.1 percent from beyond the arc and leading the league with 2.4 steals per game.

    Although his scoring efficiency dipped the following year, the 28-year-old averaged nearly a full assist better and became more of a total playmaker en route to his second straight All-Star appearance. 

    However, Oladipo never got to play in that second All-Star Game. He suffered a ruptured quad tendon in January 2019 and would miss almost a full calendar year. When he returned, he was not nearly as explosive or comfortable as he had been before the injuries.

    Now, there are all sorts of questions regarding his future. The former University of Indiana star will be a free agent at the end of the year, and he has been enveloped by trade speculation.

    One team with rumored interest, the New York Knicks, is reportedly split on exploring a trade for Oladipo.

    Here are the latest rumors on the Knicks, as well as Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield and Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac.

Knicks Divided on Pursuing Oladipo

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The Knicks began the offseason seemingly desiring a guard. Now, they are all but out of options.

    Chris Paul went to Phoenix. The Toronto Raptors re-signed Fred VanVleet, while Rajon Rondo joined the Atlanta Hawks. Meanwhile, the Washington Wizards and Houston Rockets both seem content to retain John Wall and Russell Westbrook, respectively.

    If New York still hopes to acquire a marquee guard, Oladipo might be the only remaining avenue. However, the Knicks' brass appears split on trying to acquire the two-time All-Star.

    Marc Berman of the New York Post reported general manager Scott Perry would like to explore a trade. Berman noted Perry drafted Oladipo while with the Orlando Magic, which could be a driving force behind his desire to make a deal. But Knicks president Leon Rose is not quite as keen on the idea.

    It is reasonable to wonder if executives around the league feel Oladipo can return to old form. He struggled badly after returning from a quad injury, averaging 14.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 19 regular-season games while also shooting below 40 percent from the field.

    The 28-year-old did not fare much better in the playoffs. He shot below 40 percent as the Pacers were swept by the Miami Heat.

    The Pacers might be more intent on rolling the dice with Oladipo on an expiring contract, anyway. New head coach Nate Bjorkgren takes over for Nate McMillan, and Indiana could wait to see what he can do with the current roster.

    Perhaps Perry feels the Knicks could woo the Pacers with a strong offer, but division in New York's front office and Indiana's tentativeness in making Oladipo available makes a deal appear unlikely.

Buddy Hield Garnering 'Mixed' Interest

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Sacramento Kings shooting guard Buddy Hield's situation is more secure than Oladipo's, at least from a contractual perspective.

    Hield signed a four-year extension with the Kings prior to the start of the year. Just over 12 months later, though, it remains to be seen whether he will still be playing in Sacramento.

    The former Oklahoma star grew more and more disgruntled under Luke Walton this past season. Jason Jones of The Athletic also reported in October that Hield had stopped answering the Kings head coach's phone calls altogether.

    Despite the tension, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area reported the Kings expect Hield to be ready for training camp. Of course, the situation could become somewhat untenable if he refuses to play for Walton or becomes a distraction.

    That said, there are multiple reasons the Kings could keep Hield. For starters, Sacramento is likely to place a decent premium on Hield in a trade. The 27-year-old has been one of the best outside shooters in the NBA since he stepped foot in the league in 2016, and he has grown as a shot-creator and playmaker.

    But other teams are not sure how they feel about Hield. Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reported he has "mixed" trade value throughout the league, whereas Sam Amick of The Athletic reported there is "no real, viable market" for trading him. 

    The Kings' impending decision on Bogdan Bogdanovic might inform whether they attempt to trade Hield. Amick was among those to report the Atlanta Hawks submitted an offer sheet, and Sacramento must decide if it will match it by sometime Tuesday morning.

    Matching the offer sheet for Bogdanovic might crowd the Kings' backcourt and make it harder for first-round pick Tyrese Haliburton to get playing time. But Hield would be that much more important to Sacramento if it allows the Serb to walk.

Assessing Ivica Zubac's Trade Value

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Clippers are another team grappling with how best to survey the trade market, though they intend to move pieces around with the purpose of competing for a title next year.

    Los Angeles has made a few moves thus far, trading Landry Shamet in a three-team deal that netted Luke Kennard, and it also re-signed Marcus Morris and brought in veteran big man Serge Ibaka from the Toronto Raptors. 

    However, L.A. whiffed in its pursuit of Rondo, and Montrezl Harrell signed with the crosstown rival Lakers. The Clippers are still scrambling to bolster the roster, and Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times opined L.A. could seek another trade given most of the best free-agent options are off the market.

    Greif pointed to Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley and Ivica Zubac as the team's best trade assets. One executive told Greif they feel Zubac has the most value as a 23-year-old big who is still developing, not to mention he is owed just $21 million combined over the next three years.

    Another executive said dealing the Croatian might land the Clippers a "solid player on a similar contract" but probably not much in the way of draft value.

    It seems somewhat unlikely L.A. would deal Zubac, anyway, especially after Harrell departed in free agency.

    Zubac is an efficient scorer, albeit on limited volume. He also rebounds at a fairly high level and showed drastic defensive improvement in the playoffs.

    The Clippers already have a shortage of quality frontcourt players. Alternatively, the arrival of Kennard gives L.A. yet another backcourt playmaker, which could make Williams more expendable. Whether the Clippers can fetch a substantive enough return to merit a trade is another question, though.

              

    All stats obtained via Basketball Reference, unless otherwise noted.