Is Victor Oladipo out of the Indiana Pacers? If rumors are to be believed, the answer is yes. Reports are swirling that the athletic guard is looking to move elsewhere. If that happens, it will be an unfortunate parting of ways as Oladipo had his best year in the NBA just two years ago with the Pacers. He was named to the All-Star Game for the first time, won the Most Improved Player trophy, and was selected to the All-NBA Third Team.
But after two injury-riddled seasons and perhaps seeing he’s suddenly become expendable with the emergence of high-scoring forward TJ Warren, it seems Oladipo wants a career restart. The firing of beloved coach Nate McMillan doesn’t help either as the Pacers might be pining for a new chapter.
The 28-year-old Oladipo played decent in his return this year, averaging 14.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists in 19 games. So it’s clear he’s far from done. But where could he end up? Here are three possible trade destinations for the two-time All-Star.
Hornets for Terry Rozier, Malik Monk
Victor Oladipo can instantly help the Hornets, who are trying to move on from the post-Kemba Walker era. The team was dead last in scoring this season, only averaging 102.9 points per outing. Oladipo can surely change that as he’s proven he can light up the scoreboard. Just two seasons ago, he put up a career-best 23.1 points, tied for ninth best overall.
Getting most of the touches with the Hornets could reinvigorate him. He and the much-improved Devonte’ Graham could team up for a high-powered backcourt. He could also provide veteran leadership for the eighth-youngest roster in the NBA with an average age of 25 years old.
The Terry Rozier Experiment didn’t exactly work for the Hornets. After signing a $58 million deal for three years in the offseason, he didn’t exactly deliver the way fans hoped for. Yes, he averaged good numbers of 18.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.1 assists, but he was mostly erratic and inconsistent. It became clear quickly that he’s not yet an elite PG as he believed himself to be.
But with the Pacers, he could play behind Malcolm Brogdon and do what he does best: Provide instant spark off the bench. Monk, meanwhile, can also provide automatic scoring as he continues to find his niche in the NBA.
Celtics for Gordon Hayward
The finances could be a little complicated, but this sounds like a perfect deal for the two players involved. Oladipo will find himself with an instant contender and could be the perfect Sixth Man, teaming up with Marcus Smart off the bench. The Celtics were the second-worst team this season in bench points with only 28.5 per game. Victor Oladipo could fix that.
He’s never had any prima donna issues and he could openly accept his role as long as they win. Besides, he has no problems playing behind longer-tenured stars as he has already done it with Russell Westbrook during his one-year stopover with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Meanwhile, it will be a grand homecoming for Hayward, who’s always been one of the biggest prides of Hoosier State. After a tough three-year stint in Beantown, where he never truly found his footing, he could easily find a home in Indiana—literally and figuratively.
Hayward was deemed as a huge free agent signing for the Celtics in the summer of 2017, reuniting with his former Butler coach Brad Stevens. But unfortunately, the former All-Star has been saddled by one misfortune after another. He missed 101 out of a possible 236 games with the Celtics. If there’s anyone who needs a new start, it’s Hayward.
Clippers for Paul George (Pacers add Doug McDermott)
Before you roll your eyes (get the reference?), hear this out: PG-13 had an acrimonious exit with the Pacers in 2017. But he’s already played 10 seasons in the NBA and he’s learned lessons along the way. With his abysmal showing in this year’s postseason, maybe he’s realized what it really takes to win. No? Yeah, maybe not.
But this is more about Oladipo finding a new home, and why would the Pacers turn down an All-NBA player they’re familiar with? They got exposed in their first round series with the Miami Heat as they lacked a true superstar, and George could fill that void. Besides, it looks like he has already worn out his welcome with the Clippers.
As for Victor Oladipo, he could instantly fit in with the Clippers. Unlike George, he doesn’t demand the rock that much. He’s comfortable playing off it and getting through screens. He could be a perfect complement for Kawhi Leonard. Oladipo could also slide down to the point guard spot—something he hasn’t done in his career. He averaged a career-high 5.2 assists in the 2018-2019 season so he knows how to orchestrate a team. With this trade, the Clippers will also get an outside threat in McDermott, who put up a career-best 10.3 points this season.