Evaluating the trade market
Teams never get equal value when they trade an All-Star caliber player. This is especially true when you are talking about one entering the final year of his contract that is also coming off of a serious injury.
The Toronto Raptors were able to acquire Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in exchange for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a top-20 protected first-round pick. Leonard, of course, had only played nine games the previous season and there were questions about whether he was still the same player.
George was traded by the Pacers to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Oladipo and Sabonis. In retrospect, the trade looks pretty good. Both players acquired by the Pacers have gone on to make the All-Star team. However, at the time, the Pacers were lambasted.
George was a four-time All-Star. Oladipo was headed to his third team in five years. Sabonis meanwhile was coming off an unimpressive rookie season, where he averaged 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
The Chicago Bulls traded Jimmy Butler and the no. 16 pick in the 2017 draft to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the no. 7 pick. At the time, Butler was a three-time All-Star, who had two years remaining on his contract.
In Oladipo’s case, why is a team going to mortgage their future when they can sign him outright in free agency the following year? The only advantage with trading for him now, is teams get an opportunity to evaluate him every day and that team gains his Bird rights.
Should Oladipo be made available on the trade market, there are a number of teams that make sense. Both the Thunder and Orlando Magic could use more scoring on the wing. However, Oladipo used to play for both and a long-term reunion seems unlikely.
The Heat and Dallas Mavericks are one All-Star level player away from true contender status. But neither one has the first-round picks or young assets necessary to make the offer enticing.
The Brooklyn Nets are reportedly looking for a third star to add to Durant and Irving. However, given the injury history of the two, the Nets may be hesitant to commit big money to Oladipo.
The two teams that make the most sense are the Denver Nuggets and the Toronto Raptors. Both teams are near the top of their respective conferences. But both are viewed as a level below the serious contenders in Los Angeles and Milwaukee.
The Nuggets could build a trade package around shooting guard Gary Harris, as well as a couple of first-round picks. Harris is an Indiana native and played college ball in the Midwest at Michigan State.
Harris is 25 years old and under contract for another two more seasons. He could step in and take Oladipo’s spot in the starting lineup. However, Harris has struggled since signing a four-year, $84 million contract. This season, Harris is averaging 10.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
The Toronto Raptors, on the other hand, could offer a similar deal built around Norman Powell, plus Patrick McCaw, Stanley Johnson and two future picks. Powell has one more year on his contract, plus a player option for the 2021-22 season. He has played a big role for the Raptors this season. In 23 games as a starter, Powell has averaged 18.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.
The Pacers would be acquiring a strong two-way wing. Powell is not on Oladipo’s level, but he would form a strong perimeter rotation along with Brogdon, T.J. Warren, and Jeremy Lamb.
As for the Toronto Raptors, the proposed deal would give them another All-Star to slot into the lineup along with Pascal Siakam.