James Harden being traded to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday was not a surprise. The Nets were Harden's first choice, and after his antics following Houston's loss to the Lakers on Tuesday, Harden's Houston clock was ticking down to zero.
What was surprising was Victor Oladipo, as part of a what became a Pacers for nothing. It's just that in the middle of such blockbuster news, it was a minor shock to see Oladipo's name pop up in the footnotes., winding up in Houston. To be clear, it's not surprising that Oladipo was dealt from Indiana, which had every incentive to get at least some value for Oladipo, who is a free agent this summer and likely would've left the
It begs the question: What is Houston's plan with Oladipo moving forward? Considering they gave up Caris LeVert, a good and still relatively young player on a pretty team-friendly deal, to get Oladipo, the only options would seem to be re-signing him this summer to a long-term, near-max contract in the interest of not trading LeVert for nothing, or turning right around and flipping him for more assets that can really ignite this rebuild.
The latter is a real possibility. The Rockets may indeed look to trade Oladipo, who doesn't want to be in Houston long term and remains intent on finding his way to the Miami Heat, according to Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer late Wednesday night.
This becomes interesting. Oladipo wouldn't have a ton of value on the market given that he's in a walk year, and besides that, it's still too early to tell whether he'll regain his All-Star form, though he has looked pretty good for Indiana thus far. Miami likely isn't going to give up anything meaningful for him, although it would make it easier to fit him under their cap this summer with his Bird rights coming as part of a potential deal.
Would a contender be willing to give up a future draft pick and an expiring deal for a few months of renting Oladipo? Would a team that lacks the cap space to go after Oladipo as a free-agent trade for him now just so they can outbid other teams with his Bird rights? We didn't think Gordon Hayward would get $100 million from a team seemingly on a non-veteran timeline, but the Hornets gave it to him. Might someone want to secure the inside track on overpaying for Oladipo?
There are possibilities, and Houston is likely exploring all of them and will continue to do so right up until the trade deadline. If Oladipo is still in Houston after the deadline, then the Rockets would almost have to try to pay him big money to stay or look for a sign-and-trade this summer. Otherwise, again, there was no reason to give up LeVert. Bottom line, there's a chance, even a good chance perhaps, that Oladipo isn't done being moved.