Things certainly did not work out for Victor Oladipo during his stint in Miami. After the Heat acquired him from Houston for the low price of Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley, Oladipo appeared in four games before re-injuring the troublesome torn quad he suffered two years ago while playing for the Pacers.
Oladipo has not played since—and when he might actually play again remains a contentious point.
Oladipo, it was announced this week, won’t be back again this season, having elected to get surgery on the quad. That complicates his situation drastically. He is heading into free agency this summer and hoped to cash in with a major contract with the Heat. Instead, he could be without a paycheck for a while after this season wraps up, possibly sitting out all of next year, too.
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At least, that is what ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported on his Hoops Collective podcast on Friday.
“They haven’t announced it but there is a very good chance Oladipo is going to miss all of next season,” Windhorst said. “He’s gonna be a free agent, I don’t know if anyone is going to sign him.”
But Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald later shot back that those inside the Heat organization have not given up on Oladipo suiting up in 2021-22.
Jackson tweeted on Friday afternoon: “I can tell you from a source very close to situation that there is optimism he will play at some point next season. Timetable will depend on how he heals over next 3 months.”
Oladipo Missed One Full Year After Last Surgery
Now, let’s sort this out.
Both Windhorst and Jackson can be right here—there is, in fact, a good chance that Oladipo won’t play next season after this surgery. He first injured the quad tendon in his knee in January 2019, and after that surgery, he did not return to the floor until the end of January 2020. If it takes Oladipo a full year to recover this time, he won’t be ready to play again until the 2022 NBA playoffs.
In Oladipo’s camp, it is possible that there is hope that the healing will come together quickly and Oladipo will be able to play next season. But with Oladipo’s contract set to expire, the best he could hope for is a small-money, one-year gamble from some team willing to take a gamble on him.
And though he is only two years removed from an All-Star appearance, Oladipo’s persistent injury has rendered him a huge risk for next season. He is only 29 years old, so there is time for a full recovery and a few good years thereafter, but fact is, Oladipo did not look great even before he arrived in Miami.
With the Pacers in the year-and-a-half before suffering the injury in 2019, Oladipo had averaged 21.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists, shooting 46.1%. In 52 games since returning, he averaged 17.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 40.4% shooting.
Heat Have Incentive to Get Something from Oladipo
It does behoove the Heat to at least take a flier on Oladipo next year, even with limited expectations. Miami was able to acquire Oladipo for a relatively low price, but the return on that investment has been nil. Olynyk, meanwhile, has posted huge numbers in Houston (19.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 56.1% shooting).
Windhorst pointed that out on the pod:
This was just a disaster of a trade. You know, the Heat got him for so cheap that I don’t think it has set them back, although Kelly Olynyk, who they sent over there, has played really well for the Rockets. It’s hard to know whether that’s just because somebody has to get the stats. The Heat are doing very well and I think are a dangerous team to see in the first round, but they get nothing out of that guy (Oladipo).
That is the incentive for the Heat to keep hoping that maybe Oladipo will be able to play next season. While Olynyk was not seen as a big price at the time of the deal, the better he plays now, the worse the whole Oladipo fiasco looks for the Heat. If there is at least the illusion that the Heat will eventually get something out of the trade, it softens the blow, if only a little.