Predicting NBA\s Most Active Teams On The Trade Market This Offseason


AJ MAST/Associated Press

Something feels off about Victor Oladipo's future with the Indiana Pacers—and it isn't just his continued recovery from the right quad injury he suffered in 2018. He announced his decision to sit out of the Disney World restart through The Athletic's Shams Charania, rather than the team, and then ended up playing anyway. The benefit of hindsight hasn't rendered that any less awkward.

Perhaps the weird vibes being observed from the comfort of my armchair—it's actually a stepper desk—are nothing. Less than nothing, even. His contract situation still invites speculation. He is slated for free agency during the 2021 offseason and might be leaning toward leaving Indiana, according to The Athletic's Sam Amick.

Vultures were beginning to circle the situation long before now, per SNY's Ian Begley. The idea, however preliminary, that he already knows what he'll do roughly one year in advance will only embolden those looking to make overtures.

The Warriors would be wise to join that fray. They have enough question marks on their roster without adding Oladipo's post-injury trajectory into the fold—Draymond Green's aging curve, Klay Thompson's return from a torn left ACL—but their own timeline mandates taking a star-sized swing.

No one they draft at No. 2 is going to help them contend for a title next season. Perhaps that someone can be the vessel through which the Warriors make a seamless transition into the post-Stephen Curry era, but that rests on their having the voltage necessary to win a title as currently constructed.

That's debatable. They're not working with a whole lot after their three stars. A supporting cast consisting of Andrew Wiggins, Eric Paschall, Marquese Chriss (non-guaranteed), Damion Lee, Jordan Poole, Ky Bowman (non-guaranteed), a will-he-ever-be-healthy-again Kevon Looney, whoever they draft and whoever they sign with the mini mid-level exception leaves an awful, awful lot to chance.

Ditto goes for bringing in Oladipo. He has far more reps as a non-star than an All-NBA player, and his foray into 2021 free agency will prove costly. But he's much more admirable of a risk than standing pat or mortgaging the future for a collection of mid-end depth. He doesn't add size to the perimeter carousel, but he'll allow Thompson to take the easier of two wing assignments on most nights. His offensive fit shouldn't be a problem. Curry and Thompson can play off anyone, particularly those who can still put pressure on the rim, and Oladipo should have an easier time remaining effective after deferring ball control when surrounded by two masterful passers (Curry and Green).

Whether Golden State has the trade chips to engage Indiana is a fair question. The No. 2  pick is fine, but this draft is seemingly devoid of star intrigue at the top, and the Pacers won't likely be looking to start over as part of an Oladipo deal. They were on course to make the playoffs without him, so maybe they value the addition of a top-two prospect. Even then, though, matching money would remain an issue.

The Warriors' Andre Iguodala trade exception isn't large enough to take in Oladipo's salary by itself. They can try acquiring a player with a large enough salary to send back out, but options are in short supply if the Pacers demand an expiring contract. James Johnson's money isn't enough. Gorgui Dieng is an odd fit in Indiana, even only for a year.

Using Wiggins' salary would at once help and create another roadblock. The Pacers have done a good job upping the utility of wings in the middle of their careers—Bojan Bogdanovic, Justin Holiday, TJ Warren, Thaddeus Young—but this is different. Wiggins will earn $94.7 million over the next three years. They need more if they're taking him. (They also have to send out another player to make the money work.)

Golden State has Minnesota's 2021 pick to throw in (top-three protection), but two primo first-rounders is a lot to surrender for a might-be All-Star on an expiring contract. Would the Pacers consider also giving up Myles Turner if the Warriors send out both those picks, Wiggins, Looney and Poole? And maybe another one of their own firsts? Do both sides just say Wiggins, No. 2 and Golden State's 2021 first for Oladipo and Doug McDermott and call it a deal?

Failing an obvious middle ground, this is an idea that may require a third-party facilitator. That's fine. Oladipo is a tantalizing enough addition for the Warriors to kick around any and all scenarios.

Alternatively Intriguing Destination: Denver Nuggets

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