Houston Rockets Victor Oladipo extension: The final verdict
The Houston Rockets have to make their decision on Victor Oladipo soon and the best decision, for the franchise, is to move him before the trade deadline on March 25th and not even entertain an extension. When the Rockets traded James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets and swapped Caris LeVert for Victor Oladipo it told the world two things about their plans.
The first is that currently, they value draft picks above players. The second is that they are more interested in cutting future salary than adding it.
By trading Oladipo before the deadline the Rockets will have achieved both of those missions. It cannot be forgotten that the Rockets are still trying to dig themselves out of the asset hole that their ill-fated trade for Russell Westbrook put them in.
While the James Harden trade has helped offset that, the valuable picks, as mentioned earlier, are not coming down the pike until at least 2024. In the short term, the Rockets could still use more assets, and moving on from Oladipo could help facilitate that.
As cap-space has become increasingly scarce, especially among contenders, the Rockets being armed with a lack of salary could see them add useful players and assets as a salary dumping ground. Being in a position like this should allow the Rockets to improve both in the short and long term.
The Rockets, viewed through the lens of a rebuild, are in a very healthy position. They have a young cornerstone player signed to a below-market contract in Christian Wood, they have a steady stream of future picks coming in, their cap situation will get better each season, and they can still move John Wall and Eric Gordon over the coming seasons to add even more assets and cap space.
Victor Oladipo is an excellent player but signing him to an extension doesn’t fit into the Rockets’ current team-building strategy. Being a low-end playoff team is not nearly as valuable as being a lottery picking salary cap dumping ground and signing Oladipo to an extension doesn’t help you in that regard.
The sign and trade option
While the Rockets should look to move Oladipo before the trade deadline, that doesn’t mean if they don’t all is lost. If he finishes the season in Houston then the Rockets will have a chance to facilitate a sign and trade.
A sign and trade likely won’t offer the Rockets as strong a return for Oladipo as a move at the deadline but it will mean they won’t lose him for nothing. If the trade deadline approaches and the Rockets’ internal valuation of Oladipo isn’t being met then they should finish out the season with him, hope his value increases, and work out a sign and trade.