Oladipo’s comments come on the heels of an Indianapolis Star report that alleged the two-time All-Star had asked members of at least three other teams, “Can I come play with y’all?” in front of Pacers teammates during games last season. Aaron Turner, Oladipo’s agent, adamantly denied that claim during an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio (audio link), and his client followed suit in a conversation with Charania.
“I know there have been people saying that I have asked players to trade for me. That’s just not true, period,” Oladipo told The Athletic. “I love my teammates, I cherish the state of Indiana and I’m focused on leading this franchise to a title.”
Oladipo said that he’s excited to play for new head coach Nate Bjorkgren and that the two have had positive talks since Bjorkgren was hired, Charania writes. The Indy Star’s report earlier this week conveyed a similar sentiment, indicating that replacing Nate McMillan with Bjorkgren had helped “changed the tone” in Indiana and increased the likelihood of Oladipo returning for 2020/21.
While Oladipo will be eligible for a contract extension this offseason, Charania reiterates that the 28-year-old and the Pacers are unlikely to come to a deal, as has been previously reported. Oladipo is still open to remaining in Indiana if he feels as if the team can compete for a championship, but wants an opportunity to maximize his future earnings, and he’ll be eligible for a larger maximum salary as a free agent than he would be if he agrees to an early extension.
Even before this week’s report from The Indianapolis Star, Oladipo had been widely viewed as a potential trade candidate, since he’ll be a free agent in 2021 and isn’t viewed as a lock to re-sign with the Pacers. However, he didn’t look quite like his old All-Star self after returning from a torn quad tendon earlier this year, so teams with interest may try to lowball Indiana this fall.
Taking into account Oladipo’s diminished value, as well as today’s public commitment to the organization, it may make sense for the Pacers to hang onto the former No. 2 overall pick for at least the start of the season. If he recaptures his old form, his value could increase by the time the trade deadline rolls around.
Still, it’s too early to rule out a potential offseason deal. The Pacers have reportedly discussed possible trades involving both Oladipo and Myles Turner, and Oladipo has reportedly drawn interest from the Bucks and Mavericks, among others.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.