The Miami Heat are re-signing Victor Oladipo, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. The deal will be for the minimum salary, according to The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson. The Heat acquired Oladipo in a mid-season trade with the Houston Rockets, but he played only four games for Miami before suffering a quad injury that knocked him out for the rest of the season.
Injuries are the reason Oladipo was available for such a low price. He has played only 88 games over the past three seasons due to a variety of maladies. Some in Oladipo's camp suspect that he will be able to return by December, according to Jackson, though the Heat view March as more realistic. Ideally, he is ready to be a major contributor again by the postseason.
That will be his best chance at earning another payday. Oladipo reportedly turned down extension offers from both the Pacers and Rockets hoping to secure more money from a more desirable team, and that team could perhaps be the Heat. Miami may have added veterans Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker this offseason, but they did so through a sign-and-trade in Lowry's case and the mid-level exception in Tucker's. That allowed them to operate above the cap and retain Oladipo's Bird Rights. Even though he's making the minimum, the Heat will be able to pay him up to the max next offseason in order to retain him if they so choose. Even if they don't, having those rights would allow the Heat to sign-and-trade him to a team without cap space and get assets back, opening up more avenues for Oladipo to get paid next offseason.
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He might have been able to make more this season from another team through a mid-level exception, but doing so would have made it harder for that team to retain him as he only would have had Non-Bird Rights next offseason. That would have allowed his new team to give him only a 20 percent raise, limiting his future earning power with that team and likely pushing him to yet another new team next offseason if he wanted a bigger deal from someone with cap space. In that scenario, he'd have played with five teams in a three-year span. Now, he gets to stay in Miami where he is presumably comfortable and continue to rehab his injury.
For now, keeping him at the minimum will allow the Heat to stay below the luxury tax line this season. Miami now has 12 players on their roster and could get to 15 using minimum salaries without reaching the $136.6 million tax line. That is important for them as they are almost certain to pay the tax over the next two seasons after this one. All of their currently contracted players will receive raises for the 2022-23 campaign, and a rookie extension for Tyler Herro would make them even more expensive for the 2023-24 campaign. Lowry, Jimmy Butler Duncan Robinson and Bam Adebayo are all already under contract for those seasons.
This is an upside play for Miami. Oladipo may never be the same after all of the injuries that he has suffered, but if he is, getting him for the minimum will be a steal. It could potentially give the Heat four All-Star-caliber players with Butler, Lowry and Adebayo already in place. Even if he's never quite that good again, he wouldn't need to be to justify a minimum-salary deal. From that perspective, this deal makes sense for both sides. Miami gets value now, but Oladipo gives himself an easier path to getting a bigger contract later.