The Boston Celtics were deemed as the strongest suitors for Victor Oladipo following reports of his uncertain future with the Indiana Pacers heading into the 2020-21 NBA season. However, the likelihood of a trade happening hit a snag when the Pacers shipped their two-time All-Star to the Houston Rockets as part of that four-team blockbuster deal for James Harden on Wednesday.
But as far as former Celtics player-turned-NBA analyst Brian Scalabrine is concerned, his old team can still acquire Dipo sometime before this season’s trade deadline. Scal went into detail about how this could come to fruition, per NBC Sports.
“One guy I would keep my eye on is Victor Oladipo, who just got shipped off to Houston. I think Houston wants to suck this year. I think they want to have a top-three pick, which is protected, and their pick is going to Oklahoma City if it falls outside of that. Victor Oladipo might be a guy the Celtics can go out there and get. They could use their trade exception, trade some young guys that are talented and go out there and I think, because he’s on an expiring contract, he fits in that mold of $20 million which is what the Celtics can spend right now without giving up a ton,” Scalabrine explained.
“I think if they could make something happen with this trade exception, we could be going into a series with the Nets saying, ‘I like us on paper better than them.’ Right now as constructed, no. But it depends on what they do with this trade exception. I can see how the Celtics could be in a position where we like our chances.”
The Celtics do own a $28.5 million trade exception–the largest in NBA history–as part of the sign-and-trade deal with the Charlotte Hornets for Gordon Hayward in the offseason. Victor Oladipo is still owed $21 million before he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the campaign. The 28-year-old guard is a versatile two-way player and would no doubt be a great fit under coach Brad Stevens.
Dipo is showing flashes of his pre-injury self in nine games for Indy so far, tallying 20.0 points. 5.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals in 42.1 percent shooting from the field and 36.2 from downtown. Plus, he’s in an expiring contract, so Boston can simply let him walk away if he won’t be as productive in Beantown. It’s no doubt a win-win situation for the Celtics, and Scalabrine is certainly on point with his assessment.