NBA Trade Buzz: Houston Rockets Still Bent On Moving Victor Oladipo Again
Two-time All-Star guard could be on the move again
Victor Oladipo’s tenure with the Houston Rockets may prove to be sweet but short. ESPN’s Tim Bontemps recently reported that there is still a huge chance that the Rockets front office will gauge Oladipo’s value in the trade market, and we all know that the two-time All-Star shooting guard is still widely coveted around the league.
Bontemps emphasized that Oladipo’s name has been circulating as one of the logical trade candidates out there, along with the likes of Lonzo Ball, JJ Redick, P.J. Tucker and George Hill.
“But while Beal is expected to stay put, there are some players who could be on the move.
In conversations with executives, a few names repeatedly popped up as logical trade candidates over the next several weeks. The New Orleans Pelicans have already engaged teams on veteran guards Lonzo Ball and JJ Redick. The Houston Rockets could potentially move Oladipo again, as well as forward P.J. Tucker, who also is on an expiring contract. No one thinks guard George Hill, who is currently out after undergoing surgery on his finger this week, will still be a member of the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder past next month's deadline.”
Oladipo, who is on his eighth year in the league, is averaging all-around numbers of 20.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.4 steals per contest this season. There is no doubt that Oladipo is steadily going back to his All-Star form in 2018 and 2019. He sustained a major injury that same year, forcing him to sit out almost a full season.
Oladipo came back to the court last year, then played for the Indiana Pacers in the Orlando bubble. However, it was obvious that he was still getting into his groove at that time as his production drastically dipped.
But the 28-year old Oladipo bounced back nicely this season as he is now putting up his usual do-it-all stat lines every night. However, his situation on his impending free agency forced the Pacers to ship him to the Rockets. The Rockets have been playing great since they traded long-tenured superstar James Harden and then received Oladipo’s services in return.
Things may still be a bit shaky right now, but Oladipo believes that “better days” are coming for the Rockets franchise. As per Tim MacMahon of ESPN, the new Rockets star knows that this team could do a lot of great things if they build their chemistry the right way.
"We're not trying to be a good team. We're trying to be a great team," Oladipo said. "We have the ability to do so. We have the personnel to do so and the coach. Now it's all about doing it and buying into every day, every possession, and playing every game like it's our last. That's this team's mentality.
We have to continue to get better, obviously, the chemistry continue to grow, the defense get better. But the mentality can never change, and the approach can never change. That's what we're all about, man. We're going to go out there to play with that chip, that brick, that whatever it is on our back, whatever is the biggest thing you can carry on your back, and go out there and compete for one another. If we do that, I truly believe we can be a very good team."
It won’t be easy, but Oladipo’s recent performances should help him fulfill his goals in Houston. He scored 32 points in his first game with the team, and has led the Rockets to five wins since his arrival. His unique abilities as a two-way star is still highly regarded around the league, and this will surely be of utmost value for him and for his new squad.
As for the teams who could express significant interest in making a move for the star shooting guard, tons of contenders in the East Coast could be gaining serious traction. The Miami Heat has always been linked to Oladipo’s name, and the surprisingly-good New York Knicks could soon make a move to bring in a star and shore up their young roster.
The Knicks, who are sporting a decent record of 10 wins against 13 defeats, are sitting just a spot below the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. Tanking obviously would not be an option for them this year, so look for them to try to get better in terms of their personnel as they chase a coveted ticket to the playoffs.
Having said that, New York still needs a proven star to power them against stronger teams. Julius Randle has been really good this year as his efficiency on offense has increased. There are nights that RJ Barrett becomes exceptional, and the fantastic play of rookie point guard Immanuel Quickley is steadily stealing the show in the Big Apple.
If they are going to pursue a star, A Sherrod Blakely of the Bleacher Report pointed out that it should be on the wing position. The frontcourt is already manned by Randle and Mitchell Robinson, so it might be more logical for the Knicks to pursue more depth on the perimeter.
“While Randle has proved he can be a high-impact scorer, New York still ranks among the league's worst teams offensively in several categories. The team's struggles are painfully obvious when you look at its guard play outside of rookie Immanuel Quickley. Randle needs help, and it'll likely come in the form of an experienced, high-scoring guard.
That's why Houston Rockets guard Victor Oladipo will be a name to keep an eye on. The former All-Star has had a slew of injuries in recent years but is among the more talented two-way players when healthy. League sources say the Knicks are among the teams interested in Oladipo and will be closely monitoring the impending free agent's play leading up to the deadline and beyond if he's not moved by then.”
It remains to be seen if the Rockets front office will indeed move Oladipo, but it seems very likely. Oladipo is entering unrestricted free agency this offseason, and signs are pointing to him not staying for long in Houston. At this point, Miami is the frontrunner for his services when he officially becomes a free agent. With young guns like Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn, the Heat actually has enough assets to entice the Rockets to negotiate with them on an Oladipo deal.
But don’t expect Pat Riley and the rest of the Heat front office to go all in for the Rockets star. Whatever happens or wherever Oladipo ends up this season, the Heat are still the favorites to land Oladipo in the upcoming free agency. From that standpoint alone, they have the leverage in this sweepstakes for Oladipo’s services.
Beal bent on staying in Washington for the long run
Much has been said about Bradley Beal’s potential break-up with the struggling Washington Wizards, but it has become apparent that that will not happen anytime soon. Beal recently re-affirmed his commitment to the Wizards, saying that he is not looking to leave his team just to find greener pastures elsewhere.
Beal, who is currently tallying career-highs of 34.8 points and 5.1 rebounds, is also dishing out 4.6 assists for the Wizards this season. There is no doubt that he is already a bona fide superstar, and he just needs a more supporting cast to finally make some noise in the postseason.
However, the Wizards are still at the bottom of the conference, sporting a lowly win-loss slate of five wins against thirteen defeats. There is little to be hopeful and optimistic for in Washington, leading to speculations that Beal might want to be traded soon.
But the 27-year old shooting guard pointed out that he has never demanded a trade away from the Wizards. In a joint column by Shams Charania and Fred Katz of The Athletic, they said that Beal does not want to be shipped to another team. Instead, he is getting increasingly frustrated by how other people criticize him for staying in Washington even despite the rough circumstances.
“Beal has so far expressed he wants to remain in Washington and has not indicated he prefers to be traded, sources with knowledge of the situation tell The Athletic. The Wizards, in turn, have no interest in trading him. Amid calls from the general public and even ones from around the league that a team at the bottom of the standings would be best off dealing its prized player, Washington has made it clear it has no plans to move him.
He is privately frustrated and confused with the perpetual portrayal of his situation, according to sources familiar with his thinking. After seeing other players take criticism for requesting to leave teams, those sources say Beal feels he’s getting nitpicked for choosing to stay in D.C., where he began his NBA career in 2012. He felt similarly when he signed an extension in October 2019. Speculation about his future has swirled since before then.”
Even if the Wizards have been navigating through stormy waters in the past couple of years, Beal has always reiterated his commitment to the team. Despite the fact that they have to endure two seasons with their main star John Wall sitting out due to consecutive injuries, Beal has been carrying the team on his back.
He put up 30.5 points and 6.1 assists for the Wizards last year, an absolutely impressive performance that shockingly did not net him a spot on the All-Star team. It was another cause for his already mounting frustrations last year, but he did not let it affect his production on the court.
The Wizards would then pull off a stunning move last offseason as they finally traded away Wall in a deal that let them acquire triple-double machine Russell Westbrook. Westbrook has been doing it all for the Wizards this season, but his high turnover count and inefficient shooting percentages have been greatly hurting the team.
There is no denying that the Wizards front office are not just standing around and waiting for their fortunes to eventually change. The Wizards have done a tremendous job of scouting for talent as they nabbed a good young forward in Rui Hachimura in the draft, then followed it up the selection of Deni Avdija in the more recent 2020 NBA Draft. Things are still not good in Washington, but it is not like they are messing everything up.
That argument could be validated in how Beal is approaching his situation. If he knew that the Wizards front office is not doing anything to address these very tough circumstances, then it is rather easy for him to try to make a trade demand. But that is not happening, and Beal still likes being a star for the Wizards.
In that same column by the Athletic, Beal said that his unpleasant body language during games is not because he wants out of the team. The two-time All-Star says that it is just because he hates losing so much, and that is the main reason why he is very upset.
They have sunk to the bottom of the Eastern Conference amid a slow, COVID-19-ravaged start to the season. They recently had six consecutive games postponed as more than half the team entered the league’s health-and-safety protocols. The two-time All-Star is admittedly frustrated with the losing. Cameras have caught him slouching in his seat during timeouts or after losses; they’ve captured viral moments of disengagement on the court.
“I gotta be better with that. The media is gonna blow it up, rightfully so,” Beal said following a loss to the Pelicans on Wednesday. “I’m mad about losing. If I was sitting over there laughing and smiling, what is the media gonna say then? ‘Oh, he doesn’t take it serious.’ I just hate losing. I hate losing. And I’m gonna continue to show pissed-off faces. I’ll try to control them as much as I can, but I don’t like losing.”
Beal and the Wizards still have time to make something happen this season. They just beat a powerhouse Brooklyn Nets squad in a high-scoring game, then defeated Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat in their most recent assignment. They have a rematch with the Eastern Conference defending champs soon, although that will indeed be a test of their mettle.
After that game, the Wizards will then end their four-game road trip when they go up against the Charlotte Hornets and the Chicago Bulls.