Houston Rockets guard Victor Oladipo recently turned down a two-year, $45.2 million maximum contract extension, the most the franchise could offer him before the end of the regular season, sources told ESPN.
As expected, Oladipo is pursuing a longer-term deal, sources said, something that the collective bargaining agreement doesn’t allow the Rockets to offer him until the offseason.
Oladipo is in the final year of a four-year, $85 million contract, which leaves the Rockets with decisions to make prior to the March 25 trade deadline — including whether they’ll make him available in trade talks. The transitional state of the Rockets’ roster makes it likely they’ll listen to overtures as they continue to get to know Oladipo — and he gets to know them — since the mid-January trade that brought him from the Indiana Pacers as part of the James Harden blockbuster.
For the Rockets, amid a post-Harden and Russell Westbrook era, there are a number of options with Oladipo, including weighing his value in the trade deadline marketplace; committing to aggressively pursuing a long-term deal in the summer; working with Oladipo on getting value back in sign-and-trade talks in the offseason; or letting him walk to use the cap space on other players in free agency.
It is typical that teams become more focused in pursuing trades closer to the deadline, which is still nearly four weeks away. Houston has yet to engage with teams on trade talks involving Oladipo, sources said.
Nevertheless, Oladipo, 28, has the chance to become one of the best two-way players available at the trade deadline or in free agency. The Miami Heat and New York Knicks are among teams that have had an interest in Oladipo, and both have the salary-cap space to sign him outright in the summer.
After the season concludes, but before the start of free agency, Houston would be able to offer him as much as a four-year, $113 million extension; once free agency begins, Houston can offer up to four years for $151 million or five years for $195 million.
Oladipo has averaged 18.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 13 games with the Rockets this season. For his nine-year career, including stops with the Orlando Magic, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Pacers, he has averaged 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists. Oladipo also has shown the ability to be a top defender.
Front office insider Bobby Marks contributed to this report.