Victor Oladipo Trade Rumors: Teams Wonder If Rockets Settle for 2nd-Round Pick

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2021

Houston Rockets' Victor Oladipo drives in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Houston Rockets guard Victor Oladipo has reportedly attracted interest from the Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat and New York Knicks ahead of the 2021 NBA trade deadline on Thursday.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Monday the Rockets are seeking a "quality first-round pick or a good young player" for Oladipo, but rival front offices "wonder" whether they'll eventually settle for a second-round draft selection.

Oladipo has put up solid counting stats since joining Houston in a January four-team blockbuster headlined by James Harden heading to the Brooklyn Nets. He's averaged 21.2 points, 5.0 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals across 20 appearances for the Rockets.

The 28-year-old Maryland native has struggled with his shot, though. He's shooting just 40.7 percent from the field, including 32 percent from three-point range, since his move from the Indiana Pacers.

His offensive efficiency has dropped markedly since his career-best campaign with the Pacers of 23.1 points on 47.7 percent shooting in 2017-18. Injuries that limited him to 55 appearances over the next two seasons combined are certainly a factor in the drop-off.

That said, he still ranks 15th among qualified shooting guards in ESPN's real plus-minus this year thanks to a net positive impact at both ends of the floor.

Oladipo is in the final season of a four-year, $85 million contract and can become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. He confirmed he turned down a two-year extension offer from the Rockets, which he called a gesture of their interest until they can make a four-year proposal over the summer.

"I didn't get a chance to say yes or no. They already were under the understanding, or they knew I wasn't going to accept it, anyway," he told reporters in early March. "It's business. That's how this business works. I'm just focused on getting better. I've got to get minutes. Everything else will take care of itself."

Given his uncertain future, he makes more sense for a team like the Heat or Knicks, who could use him to upgrade their rotation for this season's playoff push. The Pistons would be betting on re-signing him if they were to pull off a swap before the deadline.

Oladipo is worth more than a second-round pick in a vacuum, but his expiring contract and the Rockets' recent struggles—a 20-game losing streak that's dropped them to 11-30—could force the front office to simply accept the best possible offer before the deadline.