3. Houston Rockets guard Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo reportedly grew weary of the Indiana Pacers and wanted to be sent elsewhere, so much that he was reportedly approaching opposing teams about joining them after facing them. Oladipo became an All-NBA selection during his tenure with the Pacers, while also becoming a two-time All-Star.
Oladipo emerged as one of the best two-way players in the league during his peak, but he suffered grueling injuries that limited him to just 55 games over the last two seasons, compared to the 155 games the Pacers played. As we now know, Oladipo was included in the James Harden deal, giving the Rockets the star player they wanted in return for the five-time MVP finalist.
Oladipo thrived in his original Rockets debut, scoring 32 points on 13-of-23, while also going 4-of-9 from long distance (44 percent). Oladipo dished out nine assists, while also grabbing five rebounds and nabbing two steals against the Chicago Bulls.
It’s been a rough three games for Oladipo since his debut, as he’s averaged just 18.3 points on 30.5 percent from the field (18-of-59) and 23.8 percent from three (5-of-21). Oladipo is clearly still getting adjusted but his first game is proof of what he can still do on the floor, but more importantly that he’s fully healthy again.
Reports surfaced that Oladipo has his sights set on the Miami Heat, which could become a reality after the 2020-21 season, as the 28-year-old guard will be an unrestricted free agent. When asked about Oladipo’s looming free agency on SportsTalk 790’s The Sean Salisbury Show, Houston Rockets GM Rafael Stone made no qualms about his desire to keep Oladipo long-term.
“I hope so. We’ve had a lot of conversations. He’s been a great addition, not just on the court, but off the court. A really, really good guy.
Hopefully this is a wonderful marriage. I think he really enjoys his teammates and his coaches. We’re trying to build. So, I very much hope so — that’s what I would say.”
Former Rockets GM Daryl Morey taught us the importance of holding such statements at face value, and with Oladipo in an expiring contract and being back at a clean bill of health, he could certainly provide value to a contending team that believes they might be one piece away.
Next: No. 2