OK, so if this Kyle Lowry stuff does not work out, maybe there’s another option for the Sixers on the NBA trade market: Rockets guard Victor Oladipo. It was reported on Saturday that Oladipo, having been shipped to Houston as part of the James Harden trade in January, turned down a two-year, $45 million contract extension from the team, setting him up for his impending free agency.
This could put the Rockets in a serious seller’s mode when it comes to Oladipo, fearing that they could wind up losing him for nothing in the offseason. There has been interest in him around the league, most notably from Miami, which has long had its eye on Oladipo as a 2021 free agent, but could speed that process by acquiring him ahead of the March 25 trade deadline.
ESPN Sources: Houston Rockets guard Victor Oladipo recently turned down a two-year, $45.2M contract extension, most the franchise is eligible to offer him now. https://t.co/Tl0Q4Gi6zy
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 1, 2021
That would be a double-whammy for the Sixers. Not only does Philly need another top-tier player so that they can keep pace with the revamped Nets, but if Oladipo goes to Miami, he would fortify the defending East champs, who have been surging up the Eastern Conference standings lately, having won 10 of their last 13 games to get back to .500, now fifth in the East.
In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sixers beat writer Keith Pompey speculated about a potential Oladipo-to-Philly deal, writing, “Oladipo’s presence alongside Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris could help catapult the Sixers beyond the Eastern Conference finals. Like Toronto’s Lowry, Oladipo’s contract expires at the conclusion of this season.”
Would the Sixers Give Up Maxey for Oladipo?
What would it take to get Oladipo to the Sixers? It would be tricky because the Rockets would surely want young assets and Philadelphia would have to give up a veteran piece to make the salaries match.
That means Danny Green and his $15 million contract would surely have to be included, but the Sixers would almost certainly have to add Tyrese Maxey to the deal, too. Maxey, chosen with the 21st pick in this year’s draft, is only 20 years old, has a 39-point outing to his credit—back in early January when the Sixers were wracked by COVID-19—and has received considerable interest around the league.
Tyrese Maxey showed out for the short-handed 76ers.
The rookie finished with 39 points in the 115-103 loss to the Nuggets.
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) January 9, 2021
Maxey has a bright future, but he is not playing much and would not likely be a part of the team’s rotation in the playoffs. The question for the Sixers, then, would be whether the upgrade from Green to Oladipo would be enough short-term benefit to justify losing Maxey. If the Rockets wanted a draft pick added to the mix, that might prove to be too steep a price for the Sixers.
Still, with Brooklyn having added Harden and now only beginning to hit their stride, even with Kevin Durant out (the Nets won eight straight before losing to Dallas on Saturday), there is pressure on the Sixers to take some action.
A Sixers P.J. Tucker & Oladipo Package?
The Sixers also would have interest in Rockets forward P.J. Tucker, and that is where a bigger deal for both players could be interesting. If the Sixers wanted a Tucker-Oladipo package, it would cost Green and Maxey, plus Mike Scott, another young player (Isaiah Joe, maybe) and some package of picks.
Tucker has struggled this season (4.5 points, 4.7 rebounds) but remains a tough-minded defender who can stretch the floor from the power forward spot. He would be an improvement over Scott, just as Oladipo (who is averaging 20.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists) would be an improvement on Green.