After the knockout trade that officially ended James Harden’s tenure with the Houston Rockets, many were surprised by the news that it would be Victor Oladipo, not Caris LeVert, who would be coming to Houston to vacate Harden’s spot in the lineup.
The Pacers’ portion of the trade came in a subsequent deal, meaning they did not participate in the Rockets-Nets-Cavaliers trade that sent Harden to Brooklyn, Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince to Cleveland, and Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, Caris LeVert and a boatload of picks and swaps to Houston.
While the trade was made official yesterday, the Rockets-Pacers trade has taken a little while to complete.
Even though LeVert has always been in the path to the Pacers, he has been listed as a member of the Rockets roster since the trade was completed.
So, what’s the snag?
Rumors have been hovering around Victor Oladipo and his desires to become a member of the Miami Heat, and as an impending free agent, the stars are aligning for Vic to join the Heat after they cleared space to bring on a max contract this offseason.
But, what if Vic is trying to accelerate the process now?
I believe Indiana will ultimately end up with LeVert, but it’s possible that Oladipo’s final destination may not be Houston.
If Oladipo is adamant about joining the Heat, could he be forcing this trade to happen seven months earlier than it has to? It certainly wouldn’t be the most shocking development we’ve seen in the NBA.
He might be looking to join the Heat now, but the Heat could feel skeptical about making the trade when they can sign him in the offseason without having to jettison one of their young wings in Tyler Herro or Duncan Robinson, who the Rockets would likely ask for in return for the two-time All-Star.
If that’s the case, why would the Rockets wish to take on a player who is adamant about joining a completely different team? The Rockets had to deal with the circus Harden brought this season, and Wednesday’s trade shows the Rockets are ready to move on, drama-free. Bringing on Oladipo might not erase the circus surrounding the Rockets, just replacing it for another one.
When it was announced that Oladipo was coming to Houston, people looked at his expiring contract and saw that his time might be short in the Space City and the team could look to deal him before the Trade Deadline on March 25.
But the Rockets might be looking to deal him much sooner than that, before he gets a chance to even take the floor in Houston.
The paperwork could also just be a little slow, but there’s some smoke here, and the smoke could lead to a fire.