Victor Oladipo

Central Notes: Markkanen, Oladipo, Antetokounmpo, Buckner, Bulls

Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen is eager to get a rookie scale extension done before the December 21 deadline, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. Markkanen said on Tuesday he’s pushing his agent, Michael (Boris) Lelchitski, to reach an agreement. “I really want to be here long-term so I’m putting some pressure on (my agent) to get (an extension) done,” he said. De’Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell and Bam Adebayo are the other members of Markkanen’s draft class who have already reached extension agreements.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers guard Victor Oladipo has been the subject of trade rumors but he insists he didn’t ask to be dealt, according to Eric Woodyard of ESPN (Twitter link). “I never came out and said that I didn’t want to play for the Pacers or be in this organization,” he said. Oladipo, who said he think he’s much healthier than he was last season, added that he feels pressure to prove that he’s still an All-Star caliber player. “It feels like the world (is) on my back and I’ve got to make sure I hold it up,” he said.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo is expected to meet with the Bucks this week, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (video link). The two-time MVP’s decision whether to sign a super-max extension or test the free agent market next offseason looms as the biggest story of the preseason.
  • The Cavaliers have hired Greg Buckner as an assistant coach, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Buckner has a history with head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, as they worked together on the Rockets and Grizzlies coaching staffs.
  • New coach Billy Donovan’s plans for Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Wendell Carter Jr. are among the questions looming over the Bulls as they open training camp, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic writes.

Pacers Notes: Oladipo, Roster, Hayward, Warren, Lamb

Don’t count on Victor Oladipo to start the season with any team besides the Pacers. Speaking today to reporters, including Michael McCleary of The Indianapolis Star, president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said that Oladipo and agent Aaron Turner have both expressed that the standout guard is fully committed to the franchise.

“I think it took some time for (Oladipo) to think about what are his goals,” Pritchard said on Wednesday. “I got a call from his agent yesterday and it’s the same thing, ‘Can’t wait to get to camp, can’t wait to show that he’s healthy and that he’s 100% committed.’ And I have to take people at their word.”

Oladipo has been the subject of trade rumors for several months, with one report even suggesting that he’d asked members of other teams last season if he could come play for them. A report earlier today confirmed that the Bucks and Pacers discussed a possible Oladipo trade earlier in the offseason.

However, the 28-year-old publicly committed to the organization less than two weeks ago and Pritchard sounds satisfied with where things stand. The Pacers’ top basketball executive told reporters today, including McCleary, that the two-time All-Star has formed a strong relationship with new head coach Nate Bjorkgren and that he thinks that could be “a major factor in “chang(ing) the tide in terms of what (Oladipo) feels about us.”

Here’s more out of Indiana:

  • The Pacers have 13 players on guaranteed contracts and will keep the last two roster spots open to encourage competition, Pritchard said today (Twitter link via J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star).
  • Pritchard said the Pacers pursued Gordon Hayward in free agency “as hard as we possibly could” (Twitter link via Michael). He added that he was transparent with the Pacers players who were discussed in Hayward sign-and-trade scenarios, so there were no surprises when those names were leaked (Twitter link via Michael).
  • Addressing the Hayward situation further, Pritchard said “it hurt a little” to miss out on the forward, since “the feedback was he wanted to be here.” Ultimately though, the Pacers didn’t feel comfortable matching the Celtics’ asking price in a sign-and-trade deal.It can’t come at a cost so debilitating that it doesn’t make sense,” Pritchard said (Twitter links via Michael).
  • The Pacers are determined to play T.J. Warren at the four this season after his success there during the NBA restart, Pritchard said (Twitter link via Michael).
  • According to Pritchard, the Pacers are hoping that Jeremy Lamb will be practicing by mid-December and back on the court by mid-January at the latest (Twitter link via Michael). Lamb is returning from a torn ACL suffered last February.
  • In case you missed it, Indianapolis will now host the 2024 All-Star Game rather than the 2021 event, which is being postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.

Bucks Rumors: Bogdanovic, Giannis, Oladipo, DiVincenzo, More

Bogdan Bogdanovic was considered Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s preferred target for the Bucks in free agency, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who says that Thanasis Antetokounmpo had been in contact with Bogdanovic for months as the brothers attempted to lure the swingman to Milwaukee.

As Fischer explains, Giannis admires Bogdanovic’s “toughness and swagger” and considers him someone you could “go to war with in the postseason.” As a result, the Bucks pursued Bogdanovic aggressively, discussing sign-and-trade scenarios with the Kings in the hopes of effectively taking the RFA-to-be off the market before last Friday by agreeing to a deal with Sacramento.

Early discussions between the Kings and Bucks included Eric Bledsoe, according to Fischer, who points out that sending Bledsoe’s $16.9MM contract to Sacramento would have made it simple for Milwaukee to meet Bogdanovic’s asking price of $18MM per year. However, the Kings insisted on Donte DiVincenzo‘s inclusion on any deal and Bledsoe’s salary was required for Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday acquisition.

After they struck a deal for Holiday, the Bucks reached a tentative agreement with the Kings, but Bogdanovic’s camp insists it never discussed the particulars of a contract agreement with Milwaukee, per Fischer. Bogdanovic even phoned the Antetokounmpo brothers to reiterate that point, Fischer adds.

When at least one rival team filed a formal complaint about the fact that the Kings had seemingly lined up a deal for Bogdanovic days before the start of free agency, the NBA launched an investigation and essentially took Milwaukee off the table as a destination for the 28-year-old due to the risk that the league would block the deal, says Fischer.

Now, the Bucks will have to hope that their failed pursuit of Bogdanovic doesn’t cause Giannis to pass on their super-max offer. According to Fischer, the franchise had been very confident about the odds of reaching an agreement with Antetokounmpo, but there has been a “categorical step back in that confidence” since the Bogdanovic debacle. That doesn’t mean an agreement won’t be reached — just that the Bucks aren’t as sure about it as they once were.

Here’s more on the Bucks from Fischer’s article, which is packed with interesting details:

  • The Bucks and Pacers had conversations about a possible trade for Victor Oladipo, Fischer confirms, adding that a package of DiVincenzo, George Hill, and the No. 24 pick was discussed at one point. Like the Kings did, the Pacers insisted on DiVincenzo being included in any offer.
  • DiVincenzo ultimately remained in Milwaukee and the Bucks are still “bullish” on his potential, writes Fischer. They were willing to move him for Bogdanovic because the RFA was considered a “necessary target in line with Antetokounmpo’s wishes.”
  • Before the Bucks struck a deal for Holiday, the Hawks discussed a package that included the No. 6 pick, Kevin Huerter, and Dewayne Dedmon, says Fischer.

Atlantic Notes: Harden, Oladipo, Grant, VanVleet

The Nets have shifted their focus away from a potential James Harden blockbuster and are simply looking to make marginal upgrades to the roster, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Brooklyn might pursue the Hornets’ Nicolas Batum once he clears waivers to give itself another defensive wing. The Nets tried and failed to secure Serge Ibaka‘s services with the $5.7MM taxpayer mid-level exception and also struck out on wing Kent Bazemore, Lewis adds.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks president Leon Rose isn’t eager to pursue a trade for Pacers guard Victor Oladipo even though GM Scott Perry wants to explore that possibility, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. The front office did make a strong push for free agent forward Jerami Grant, who wound up with the Pistons in a sign-and-trade with Denver. Rose could still make another trade for a rotation player or take on another team’s unwanted contract with an asset attached in order to reach the salary cap floor, Berman adds.
  • Re-signing Fred VanVleet to a four-year, $85MM contract could be considered overpaying but the Raptors have a reputation for rewarding players for a job well done, Eric Koreen of The Athletic opines. While the Raptors may have essentially been bidding against themselves at that price, their reputation of taking care of their own helps in acquiring other players. The contract is also structured so that they can pursue a top-flight free agent next summer.
  • That contract could ultimately prove to be a good value if VanVleet improves in a few areas, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic. He needs to get better with his pull-up shooting and finishing at the rim when he takes over lead guard responsibilities, which will happen when Kyle Lowry leaves or shifts to more of an off-guard role. He also needs to get better in pick-and-rolls, Murphy adds.

Latest On Gordon Hayward

4:57pm: Hayward has told the Celtics he wants to go to the Pacers, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets. The Pacers offered Myles Turner and Doug McDermott to Boston in a sign-and-trade scenario but the Celtics want Turner and either Warren or Victor Oladipo.

4:45pm: The Hornets are expected to pursue Gordon Hayward in free agency but will likely need to work out a sign-and-trade agreement with the Celtics to make it happen, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reports.

Hayward declined his whopping $34.2MM option in order to become an unrestricted free agent. In 52 games last season, he averaged 17.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 4.1 APG on .500/.383/.855 shooting but missed a good chunk of the playoffs with an ankle injury.

Charlotte has approximately $19.4MM in cap space, so it’s unlikely Hayward would sign a multi-year deal unless there’s a sign-and-trade scenario with Boston and perhaps a third team as a facilitator.

The Hornets could dangle the expiring contracts of Cody Zeller and Nicolas Batum as part of the package, Scotto notes.

Hayward has some history with the Hornets franchise. He signed an offer sheet with Charlotte in 2014 when he was a restricted free agent but the Jazz matched it.

The Pacers are also interested in Hayward via a sign-and-trade but are reluctant to part with T.J. Warren and Aaron Holiday, two players that Boston would have some interest in acquiring, according to Ian Begley of SNY TV. However, Hayward may try to force the Celtics’ hands. The former Butler University star is “fully focused” on returning to Indiana and playing for the Pacers, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania (hat tip to RealGM).

The Knicks are also expected to be in the mix for Hayward after freeing nearly $40MM in cap space.

Some with the organization have interest in signing Hayward as a free agent. However, the Knicks are unlikely to offer Hayward a four-year deal, Begley adds.

And-Ones: Fan Attendance, 2022 Draft, March Madness, Oladipo

For the time being, the NBA is expecting between about five and 10 teams to have fans in their arenas (at partial capacity) to start the 2020/21 season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The league has expressed a hope that teams will be able to have some amount of fans attend games this season despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and has sent teams a list of health and safety protocols that will apply to each home arena.

However, clubs’ decisions will be dictated in large part by local government officials. In areas where large-scale gatherings aren’t permitted, it seems safe to assume that teams will open the season playing in front of empty arenas.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world as we gear up for a wild week:

  • There’s growing pessimism around the NBA that the age limit for draft-eligible players will be eliminated in time for the 2022 draft, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). There’s still an expectation that the one-and-done rule – which prevents players from entering the draft right out of high school – will be adjusted at some point, but the target date for that rule change continues to be pushed back.
  • The NCAA announced this week that it plans to have its March Madness tournament for 2021 take place in a single location, likely in Indianapolis. The event had originally been scheduled for 13 separate sites, but the NCAA has decided a single site makes more sense for safety reasons related to COVID-19.
  • Pacers guard Victor Oladipo has joined the ownership group assuming control of the New Zealand Breakers of Australia’s National Basketball League, according to Michael Marot of The Associated Press. “I was always interested in being part of team ownership, having input with a team and helping a team be successful on the business side of things,” Oladipo said. “To work with a team from this perspective, I’m sure I’ll have newfound respect for the guys who have been in that position.”

Draft Rumors: Wolves, Edwards, Ball, P. Williams, Hawks, Knicks, More

With the 2020 NBA draft just two days away, several draft experts are publishing their final mocks of the year, nearly five months after the event was initially scheduled to take place. Jonathan Givony of ESPN, Jeremy Woo of, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report are among those who published new mock drafts today. Let’s round up a few of the key pieces of intel from those mocks…

  • Sources tell Vecenie that the Timberwolves still haven’t finalized a decision on what they’ll do with their No. 1 pick, as they expect “real” trade offers to start coming in during the next couple days. However, Givony and Woo have both heard that most teams around the NBA are operating as if the Wolves will select Anthony Edwards if they stay put.
  • LaMelo Ball‘s private workouts with teams last week were strong, according to Givony, who suggests that the Warriors were among the teams impressed by what they saw from Ball. Still, Givony and other draft experts view James Wiseman as Golden State’s most likely pick at No. 2.
  • There has been plenty of chatter about Florida State forward Patrick Williams, whose ceiling is as high as No. 4 to the Bulls, according to both Woo and Givony.
  • Opposing front offices say the Hawks (No. 6) have been the most active team in trade talks, according to Givony, who says Atlanta could push for an impact player (such as Jrue Holiday or Victor Oladipo) or trade down and pick up another young player.
  • Sources tell Wasserman that the Knicks (No. 8) appear to be “looking hardest” at Devin Vassell, Isaac Okoro, and Kira Lewis Jr. Sources have also linked Obi Toppin to New York for some time, per Woo, though the Dayton forward is less likely to be on the board at No. 8.
  • Assuming the Suns keep the No. 10 pick, sharpshooter Aaron Nesmith is thought to be high on their list, says Wasserman.
  • While the Celtics have looked into packaging their three first-rounders (Nos. 14, 26, and 30) for a mid-lottery pick, interest in that sort of deal appears to be lukewarm, according to Woo, who says Boston may be more likely to make smaller trades with their picks.
  • Sources tell Wasserman that the Trail Blazers (No. 16) have expressed interest in Serbian forward Aleksej Pokusevski, while Vecenie says Jay Scrubb‘s name is the one he has heard linked most frequently to Portland.
  • The Bucks‘ pick at No. 24 is one to watch in trade talks as Milwaukee tries to upgrade its roster, writes Vecenie. If they keep the pick, Josh Green is among the options the Bucks are eyeing, per Wasserman.

Victor Oladipo Tells Pacers He’s Fully Committed To Team

Veteran guard Victor Oladipo has let the Pacers know that he’s fully committed to the franchise and its direction for the upcoming season, he tells Shams Charania of The Athletic.

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.

Mavericks Eyeing Oladipo, Dinwiddie, LaVine

The Mavericks are seeking a secondary play-maker to complement Luka Doncic, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who says Pacers guard Victor Oladipo, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, and Bulls guard Zach LaVine are among Dallas’ potential trade targets.

The Mavs don’t project to have any cap room until 2021, but rather than sitting back and waiting a year to try to make a splash, the team is expected to be active in trade talks this month as it pursues another impact player. As a report last month indicated, the franchise doesn’t want to waste any time upgrading its roster around Doncic, who already looks like a perennial MVP candidate.

Oladipo, who is entering a contract year, has reportedly agitated some Pacers teammates and may not have a long-term future in Indiana, making him a potential target for Dallas. Typically, a 28-year-old who has made multiple All-Star teams would require a significant return, but Oladipo didn’t look like his old self last season after returning from his torn quad tendon. If the Mavs are willing to roll the dice on his health, like they did in 2019 with Kristaps Porzingis, the price might be a little lower than usual.

As for Dinwiddie, we heard earlier this week that multiple contending teams in the Western Conference had engaged in internal discussions about pursuing the Brooklyn guard. It’s safe to say the Mavs were one of those clubs, though it remains to be seen if the Nets will consider moving Dinwiddie. He may have his role reduced in 2020/21 with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving back in the lineup, but he’s also an important insurance policy in Brooklyn, given Irving’s and Caris LeVert‘s injury histories.

Meanwhile, we noted earlier today that the Mavs were among the teams that have contacted the Bulls recently to inquire on LaVine’s availability. Unless Chicago drafts a potential franchise guard such as LaMelo Ball next Wednesday, I’d be a bit surprised to see the team place LaVine on the trade block. Still, we don’t yet have a clear idea of which players new Bulls president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas is most attached to.

Oladipo, Dinwiddie, and LaVine will have respective cap hits of $21MM, $11.5MM, and $19.5MM in 2020/21, so it wouldn’t be too difficult for the Mavs to match salaries in any trade, either using Tim Hardaway‘s $19MM expiring deal or a smaller contract or two. Dallas also has this year’s Nos. 18 and 31 picks available to dangle in a trade offer.

Pacers Rumors: Oladipo, Turner, Brogdon, More

Victor Oladipo agitated some of his Pacers teammates by saying some iteration of “Can I come play with y’all?” to members of the Raptors, Heat, and Knicks last season in front of his teammates, three sources tell J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.

According to Michael, Oladipo has also gained a reputation throughout his career for being moody — he’ll be positive when things are going well, but has a tendency to point fingers if they aren’t, sources tell The Indy Star.

Still, Michael says the odds have increased that Oladipo will still be in Indiana when the 2020/21 season gets underway. As Michael explains, replacing head coach Nate McMillan with Nate Bjorkgren has helped “change the tone” for the Pacers, whose front office has maintained a “good rapport” with Oladipo. According to Michael, Oladipo’s agent Aaron Turner has also conveyed to the franchise that his client would like to stick around.

The Pacers have engaged in trade discussions involving Oladipo, including in hypothetical three-team deals that would also include big man Myles Turner, sources tell Michael. But for now, the two-time All-Star seems more likely than not to remain a Pacer until at least the 2021 trade deadline.

Here’s more on the Pacers:

  • Indiana is keeping the door open for possible contract extension talks with Oladipo, but doesn’t expect a deal to be reached before he hits free agency in 2021, writes Michael. Signing a new contract in free agency would be the best way for Oladipo to maximize his earnings, since the most lucrative extension the Pacers can offer is worth less than the max.
  • Turner has generated plenty of interest, with the Celtics and Hornets believed to be among the teams with an eye on him, according to Michael. League sources with knowledge of the situation tell The Indy Star that while Turner entered the offseason resigned to the possibility that he may be playing elsewhere in 2020/21, the most recent interactions he has had with the franchise suggest he may end up staying put.
  • After joining the Pacers in 2019, Malcolm Brogdon emerged as the team’s leader. A league source told The Indy Star earlier this year that Oladipo felt it was “no longer his locker room” when he returned from his quad tendon injury, and two sources have since confirmed that sentiment, per Michael.
  • Brogdon was also the player who was most outspoken and displeased with McMillan’s coaching style, which was referred to as “coaching through fear,” according to Michael.