After Miami Heat forward P.J. Tucker opted out of the second year of his contract, much of the media attention has been focused on where the veteran defender will land. However, there’s another major unrestricted free agent on the Heat’s roster, guard Victor Oladipo.
Based on Oladipo’s Instagram posts, he’s been balancing enjoying vacation time while staying in shape through intense workouts with his trainers. Because the Heat owns the 30-year-old’s Bird Rights, which means the franchise can exceed the salary cap to re-sign Oladipo, his return to Miami next season seemed inevitable, but that might not be the case.
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Oladipo sent out a tweet on Saturday, June 25 that put a wrench in that assumption. The former No. 2 pick from the 2013 NBA Draft tweeted, “There are always two sides to a story. Until you hear both sides please, be slow to speak and quick to listen. Don’t let social media or people not involved create your truth. Be smart! And until then keep your illusions to yourself. #Respectfully #ButUAlreadyKnowThis 🐺”
Fans weren’t quite sure what to make of Oladipo’s tweet, whether it was a general message about not believing everything you read on social media, or an attempt to proactively get ahead of an impending report. One man responded, “Don’t get it. Is there a story about u that’s coming out soon?” while another person wrote, “Great advice. Hopefully, you stay in Miami 👍🏿.”
Last season, Oladipo signed a one-year, $2.38 million contract, knowing the bulk of the year would be spent recovering from knee surgery May 2021. The veteran’s minimum was a far cry from the $21.25 million salary he earned for four consecutive seasons with the Indiana Pacers before undergoing his first knee surgery in January 2019.
However, 6-foot-4 veteran flashed his potential after returning from his 11-month rehab. During the 2021-22 NBA season, Oladipo appeared in just eight games. While he put 40 points as a starter against the Orlando Magic on April 10, with limited minutes during the regular season, he averaged 12.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. During the playoffs, he scored 23 points twice (against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 2 and the Boston Celtics in Game 4) averaging 10.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game.
Oladipo, put down roots in Miami last year, purchasing a $7.8 million home on Hibiscus Drive, said he took the veteran’s minimum deal last season because he still has so much to prove as a member of the Heat, a sentiment which still holds true:
I feel there’s unfinished business here. I feel like I came here for a reason and there’s a purpose for me being here and I’m trying to find out what that is. I believe it’s a good one. I believe we can do something very special here for years to come and I want to be a part of it.
How Much Money Can the Heat Offer Oladipo?
As for Oladipo’s future, the big question is whether another team believes he’ll return to All-Star form and offer him an above-market deal. ESPN analyst Bobby Marks wrote last month that “Oladipo should see offers starting at the $6.4 million tax midlevel and up to the $10.3 million full midlevel.”
Will the Heat match his contract if Oladipo receives offers in the $10 million salary range? Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang believes it’s possible for the Heat to offer him a two-year, $21 million contract, a deal which “could also end up being a valuable trade chip with the potential he’s perceived to hold because of what he accomplished just a few years ago,” he wrote on June 25.
“But something to keep in mind,” Chiang continued. “The Heat will be hard capped at the apron that’s expected to be at around $155 million if it uses the $10.3 million non-taxpayer midlevel exception in free agency. While the Heat can offer Oladipo up to his max number because of Bird Rights, the hard cap (if triggered) could limit what Miami is able to offer him.
Free agency negotiations can officially begin on Thursday, June 30. Free-agent signings open at noon E.T. on July 6.
Erik Spoelstra Insinuated Oladipo Would Be Back During His End-of-Season Press Conference
Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra said during his final press conference on June 1, “You’re going to see a totally different Vic next year by the time he gets to training.
“Once he got healthy, immediately you saw his presence defensively, and now how impactful he can be. And then offensively, as the playoffs went on, that’s how funny it is and crazy, like he’s getting in better rhythm in the most pressure-packed moments… For him to do what he did in this playoff run is really unheard of.”
Coach Spo also noted on Oladipo’s seamless fit into Heat Culture. “Vic has a great work ethic. I’ve seen him over the years. He’s lived and worked in Miami. When he was healthy, I saw him work. And his capacity to work is extremely high.