Warriors reportedly interested in trade for Rockets guard Victor Oladipo

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Ben DuBose
·3 min read
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According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Golden State Warriors are among teams interested in pursuing a trade with the Houston Rockets for two-time All-Star guard Victor Oladipo. Oladipo’s contract expires after this season, so the slumping Rockets are widely expected to consider trades for him leading up to March 25 deadline — rather than risk him leaving for no compensation in offseason free agency.

Houston (11-23) enters the second half of the NBA’s 2020-21 regular season on a 13-game losing streak, which has dramatically reduced their chances at making a playoff push this season. As such, the upside of scenarios where they retain Oladipo would seem to be greatly diminished.

As for the Warriors, Houston’s longtime rival could become an intriguing trade partner. In many cases, teams might not want to surrender a sizable chunk of assets for Oladipo, since they could be able to sign him as a free agent this offseason (without trading away anything). However, because Golden State is nowhere close to having salary cap flexibility, they don’t have the luxury of waiting until the offseason. Thus, if they want him, they might have to make a strong push, now. O’Connor explains:

League sources say the Warriors have interest in acquiring Rockets guard Victor Oladipo. The former Pacer has been up and down in his second season following a major knee injury, averaging 20 points on only 39.9 percent from the field. Golden State would not have the cap space to pursue him this summer, so the time to pounce would be now. Houston can’t demand too much in a deal given Oladipo has underwhelmed and will become an unrestricted free agent. Plus, Golden State wouldn’t have a whole lot to offer. Because of picks owed elsewhere, the Warriors are able to deal up to just two first-round picks: one from 2021 (via Minnesota) or 2022, and one from 2026 or 2027.

Golden State’s interest in Oladipo signals the front office’s intentions to find another ball handler. Curry and Draymond remain excellent offensive engines, but the Warriors are missing the next Andre Iguodala or Shaun Livingston. Could Oladipo fill that role? Though his scoring efficiency is down now, he would receive better looks when surrounded by better talent. He can also still generate shots for others off the dribble and play hard-nosed defense. The Warriors need more wing depth and another ball handler, and Oladipo should be one of the players they’re at least thinking about.

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The expiring contract of Kelly Oubre Jr. ($14.4 million) could become very useful, as it pertains to matching salaries to approach Oladipo’s $21.0-million figure. Another theoretical path could include Andrew Wiggins ($29.5 million), who the Rockets could match by combining Oladipo and the expiring salary of Dante Exum ($9.6 million).

However, with Wiggins owed an average of more than $30 million through the 2022-23 season, he’s widely viewed as a negative asset. With Golden State low on tradable first-round draft picks, they may not have the requisite sweetener to make that path worthwhile, unless they were willing to deal rookie center James Wiseman (which seems unlikely) or that highly desirable pick from the rebuilding Timberwolves.

In any event, the presence of additional bidders certainly can’t hurt the leverage of Houston general manager Rafael Stone. Other Oladipo suitors are believed to include the New York Knicks and Miami Heat.

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Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP