Yes, Rockets’ Rafael Stone fleeced Pat Riley in the Victor Oladipo trade

President Pat Riley of the Miami Heat (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
President Pat Riley of the Miami Heat (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Perhaps the most heavily scrutinized trade in last months trade deadline involved the Houston Rockets, as they sent Victor Oladipo to the Miami Heat in the ninth hour of the deadline. The return of Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley, and a future pick swap drew a mount of criticism for Rockets GM Rafael Stone.

Many questioned why the Rockets didn’t get Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, or Precious Achiuwa in return for Oladipo, a two-time All-Star and former All-NBA selection.

While the return of Olynyk, who is on an expiring deal and was essentially unwanted by Miami, and Bradley, who has a team option for next season and is already 30, made Stone and the Rockets the laughing stock of the league, the trade has perhaps been the most lop-sided deal of the season, from a production standpoint.

Why the Houston Rockets fleeced the Heat in the Victor Oladipo trade

Olynyk has turned in four double-doubles in his last five games and has averaged 17.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.1 steals since joining the Rockets, while shooting 59 percent from the field and 39.3 percent from long-range. The 29-year-old big man has also been on a tear of late, which has been virtually impossible to ignore.

Kelly Olynyk’s last 7 games:

25 PTS – 10 REB – 63% FG16 PTS – 8 REB – 60% FG18 PTS – 11 REB – 54% FG13 PTS – 11 REB – 55% FG10 PTS – 18 REB – 44% FG21 PTS – 4 REB – 88% FG26 PTS – 8 REB – 53% FG

— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) April 15, 2021

Olynyk has drawn praise from Houston Rockets coach Stephen Silas and has looked every bit like a necessary part of the Rockets’ future, with much of the fanbase in agreement on paying him whatever is necessary this offseason. Olynyk has naturally fit into Silas’ offense and has played good defense as well, making it even less of a question of whether the Rockets should pony up this offseason and pay him.

On the flip side, the Miami Heat haven’t gotten much out of Oladipo, as he’s been marred with injuries, which have kept him out of action for six of Miami’s 10 games since the acquisition. The Heat haven’t established a timetable for Oladipo’s latest knee injury, which is even more concerning than his averages of 12 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 37.2 percent from the field, and 23.5 percent from three.

It’s clear that the Rockets landed the best player in the trade, and Olynyk is sure to cost less than Oladipo this summer as well, to add insult to injury. But although the Heat have appeared to have gotten the short end of the stick in the trade due to health concerns, they secured a victory of sorts, as explained by Sirius XM and NBA TV analyst Sam Mitchell.

“This helps you determine if you’re Miami how much is Victor Oladipo worth. They may have made this move because they’ll get a discount.

Cause I know he wants a max deal but I can’t give you a max deal. You’re hurt again.

The best ability is availability. I don’t care what you say about the thought of Victor Oladipo, at the end of the day if he’s sitting on the bench hurt, that does no good.

And the fact that they went on a four game road trip and they had to leave him at home, that tells you he isn’t playing no time soon.  Even LeBron James not playing, he traveled with the team.

He’s still traveling with the team and getting treatment. They felt like it was better to leave Victor Oladipo at home.”

Mitchell added that Miami likely knew about Oladipo’s injury issues and inability to stay on the court, which factored into their decision to trade for him, as “they thought they could “fix him.”

If this was Heat executive Pat Riley’s vantage point at the time of the deal then he’d likely make the move again, as Oladipo’s stint with the team has many, like Mitchell, believing that his price tag will be lower this summer.

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But when you factor in Oladipo’s performance and lack of availability since changing uniforms, it begs the question of why more people haven’t been discussing how the Rockets fleeced Miami, as Olynyk will carry a much lower asking price than even a reduced number for Oladipo.