2x All-Star on Miami Heat Debut: ‘I Have a Big Chip on My Shoulder’

Victor Oladipo heat

Getty Victor Oladipo #4 of the Indiana Pacers watches the action against the Brooklyn Nets at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on February 10, 2020.

Victor Oladipo, who was traded to the Miami Heat on March 25, is finally making his official debut with the team on Thursday night. The two-time All-Star missed Miami’s recent road game series due to a head cold but will step onto the court in his new No. 4 Heat jersey on Thursday night.

On April 1, Miami takes on the Golden State Warriors at the AmericanAirlines Arena and Oladipo is pumped and ready to go. The 28-year-old guard told the media, “My better days are ahead. I truly believe I haven’t even scratched the surface. I have a lot to prove, I have a big chip on my shoulder.”

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For those wondering if he’ll vibe with Heat culture, team leader Jimmy Butler has no doubt. “I’m hype,” Butler said. “I’m excited. Another piece that we acquired and he’s going to fit in right away and he’s going to help us win. He’s going to help us guard, obviously he’s going to help us put points on the board. I’m ready to get it rocking.”

“Bam [Adebayo] and Jimmy are ultimate competitors,” Oladipo continued. “I believe I am too. I can’t wait. I think our mindsets are the same, and that’s winning, winning at the highest level possible.”

Oladipo’s ‘Test Drive’ With the Heat Will Have a Huge Impact on His Future NBA Career

TwitterVictor Oladipo debuts his No. 7 Miami Heat jersey on social media.

One of the biggest surprises from the NBA’s trade deadline was seeing Kyle Lowry remain with the Toronto Raptors. After months of hyped-up reports linking him to Miami, Heat fans were expecting a blockbuster trade deal for the veteran Raptors star to come to fruition.

However, Miami will have the option to try and sign Lowry, 35, during the offseason, a move that could become the franchise’s main goal if things don’t work out with Oladipo.

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported on March 29:

If it doesn’t work out with Oladipo, the Heat could pivot back to Lowry. League sources said if Lowry had been traded, his preference was the Heat because of his close friendship with Jimmy Butler. The Heat can realistically create about $26 million in space while retaining the restricted free-agent rights to Robinson and Kendrick Nunn, if the salary cap is $112 million as currently projected. That number falls short of all max contracts for next season—which range from $28 million for players coming off rookie deals to $39 million for players with 10-plus years of experience—but it could be more than enough to entice Lowry.

O’Connor described Oladipo’s current stint with Miami as a “test drive.”

Oladipo, who turns 29 in May, hasn’t fully regained his All-Star form after rupturing a quad tendon in his right knee in early 2019. But he’s shown flashes this season of the Oladipo of old, averaging 21 points on just 52 percent true shooting with five assists and five rebounds. Those are solid numbers, but it’s not quite his peak of 23 points on 58 percent true shooting in 2017-18, his breakout All-NBA season with the Pacers. Playing a less demanding role in Miami alongside the best talent he’s ever played with in his career could create easier scoring chances and boost his efficiency. At the least, Oladipo’s downhill driving and slashing should help create shots for Miami’s sputtering offense, which ranks 24th in offensive rating this season.

As for Oladipo, he’s been waiting years to finally join the Heat, and will likely want to stick around. “My name has been linked for so many years,” he said of Miami. “Obviously, my offseason is here with D-Wade and all that. I thought I would definitely fit into the Heat culture, how they play, how they get after it.”

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