Victor Oladipo said, “I’m a Pacer,” and he’s sticking to it — for now at least. On Thursday, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star reported that Oladipo had asked players on the Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and Toronto Raptors to get their teams to acquire him in a trade.
Now, more than 24 hours later, the two-time All-Star has finally decided to squash the speculation via Shams Charania of The Athletic (again), as opposed to issuing a PR statement through the team, speaking for himself directly via Zoom call, or taking advantage of the original opportunity to respond to requests for comment, which Michael says was made available to the 28-year-old guard for two-plus weeks ahead of publication.
“I know there have been people saying that I have asked players to trade for me. That’s just not true, period. I love my teammates, I cherish the state of Indiana and I’m focused on leading this franchise to a title,” Oladipo told The Athletic.
Given that his agent, Aaron Turner, also did a national media appearance today instead of speaking with local outlets, it’s debatable whether this delayed attempt to shoot down the rumors, with the medium appearing somewhat more meaningful than the message, will be enough to clear the air with fans or his teammates, especially considering some of the other drama that was swirling around social media yesterday while various members of his inner circle weighed-in on the subject as he stayed silent.
Moreover, after reportedly turning down a four-year, $80 million extension ahead of his return to action last season, Charania notes that Oladipo “is not expected to entertain an extension” this offseason due to CBA constraints on what the Pacers can offer him (four years, $112 million), which, regardless of the rest of this mess, arguably brings into question how committed the team should be to retaining him past the trade deadline, even if he is fully committed to betting on himself with the Pacers in the here and now.
Per Charania, Oladipo is excited to play under new head coach Nate Bjorkgren, but he’s also stated publicly that he wants to compete for championships. Consequently, even if all the weirdness that’s transpired leading up to, during, and in the wake of the bubble ultimately still results in him starting the season with the Pacers, it nevertheless seems as though both sides are going to have a lot to prove to each other, be it health, rejuvenation, or contender status, for the relationship to continue in the long-term.