Victor Oladip is headed toward an intriguing offseason this summer.
Oladipo is on the verge of free agency and could draw legitimate outside suitors after playing well in 15 playoff appearances. The former Indiana Hoosier is also headed towards the first offseason where he could have an offseason where he can work on his game and conditioning for the first time in years after he’s worked his way back from rehabbing a few quadriceps procedures, most recently going under the knife in May 2021.
“He’s going into the summer physically able to work at his craft,” Spoelstra said. “He’ll get back to the player that people were accustomed to seeing.”
That player is the one who is the 2018 Most Improved Player. The one who averaged over 20 points per game for the Indiana Pacers and Houston Rockets. After Oladipo showed, he’s still got some motion in him during Miami’s playoff run, and he’s likely to garner a better deal than the League-minimum deal he signed last year.
According to Ira Winderham of the South Floria Sun-Sentinel, the New York Knicks could be looking to sign the 2018 Most Improved Player of the year. The 2022 free agency market beings July 1, and Miami owns Oladipos Bird Right, which means the Heat can match a contract worth $20 million-plus this summer.
“So we’ll see where that goes,” Heat President Pat Riley said this week, “because Vic’s obviously a free agent, and we have his Bird Rights, and we’ll definitely be talking to his agent.”
Miami must ask themselves whether Oladipo would be worth that kind of money after showing enough playoff flashes of brilliance. With Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, and Tyler Herro already in tow, it could be challenging for Heat president Pat Riley to rationalize that decision. Herro is entrenched after bouncing back from a tough sophomore season and winning the 2022 Sixth Man of the Year. Lowry is 36-years-old but is still as cerebral as ever at point guard.
If Miami is to keep Oladipo, they could use him as a combo guard off the bench. He’s impressed Riley and Spoelstra with his hard work since coming back from being cleared for court work in January. He’s already got fans rooting for him within the organization, like assistant coach Chis Quinn, who has reminded Spoelstra just how unique Oladipo’s play has been after playing just 60 games over the last three years.
“Coach Quinn showed me — look, I’m aware of this, I’m fully aware because I’ve been with him for a full year — but that stat, in the last three years, how many games that he had missed, and then how many regular-season games he’s played in the last three years,” Spoelstra said, with that total at 60 over the three years, compared to a standard 82-game regular season. “For him to do what he did in this playoff run is really unheard of.”
The two-time All-Star has played 12 games in Miami since Houston traded him to South Beach in 2021. He averaged 12.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game during that time.
During the Heat’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals, Oladipo averaged 10.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.1 dimes per game, scoring 23 points twice against Atlanta (Game 2) and Boston (Game 4).
“There’s a great story in watching him work, watching him come back, and then watching him get into games,” Riley said of Oladipo’s progression this past season. “It wasn’t easy at the beginning. When he had 21 in Toronto, then 40 in Orlando, and you started to see some of the things he could do again, like you saw in the past.”
“And then in the playoffs, I thought he had some great moments for us. He was the kind of player that I felt as the series began to grow, and all of them began to grow and became more competitive defensively, that you do need players that can break down a defense on their own or with their quickness and slashing can create their own shots.”
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