Miami Heat: Is Victor Oladipo a Mere Placeholder for Kyle Lowry?

Victor Oladipo, Kyle Lowry

Getty If Victor Oladipo (L) doesn't resign with the Miami Heat, the franchise can release him over the summer in order to obtain Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry.

The Miami Heat pulled off what was arguably the most impressive trade deadline moves on March 25, acquiring Houston Rockets star Victor Oladipo for next to nothing and Sacramento Kings’ big man Nemanja Bjelica — all without giving up any of their core young talent.

However, 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.

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At 10:15 a.m. ET on March 25, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst revealed that Miami offered up star forward Duncan Robinson in a trade for Lowry. While there are other Heat players that will also be sent to Toronto in this deal, it’s notable that the centerpiece of the offer is Robinson, and not NBA sophomore, Tyler Herro.

However, Miami drew a hard line at giving up Herro, and according to Pat Riley, Robinson was also off the table.

However, this is not the end for Lowry and the Heat. 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.

Oladipo Becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent This Summer

Victor Oladipo miami heat

GettyVictor Oladipo #4 of the Indiana Pacers warms up before a game against the Miami Heat at Visa Athletic Center at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 10, 2020.

While Bjelica will debut with the Heat on March 29 when Miami takes on the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, Oladipo was ruled out for Monday’s game due to a head cold. Until the two-time All-Star jumps into the mix, it’s hard to tell whether or not Oladipo blends well with Heat culture.

O’Connor said of the 28-year-old guard’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.

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