How Victor Oladipo’s decision to opt out of Orlando impacts the Miami Heat

Victor Oladipo has opted not to participate in the NBA’s restart in Orlando, and it has a direct and indirect impact on the Miami Heat. 

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, top Miami Heat free agent target Victor Oladipo has opted out of the NBA’s resumption in Orlando, Florida. Since suffering a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee back in January of 2019, the Indiana Pacers guard hasn’t looked the same.

Oladipo plans to take this time and get fully healthy ahead of the 2020-2021 season. Shams Charania of the Athletic was first with reports of his decision:

Oladipo averaged a mere 13.8 points on a poor 39/30/78 shooting split in his 13 games returned from injury this season. He lacked the physicality and lateral mobility that raised him from role player to All-Star guard in Indiana with the Pacers.

So why bring up Miami, and how does this tie in to the Heat? A number of ways, actually.

In the short term, the Heat are scheduled to play the Pacers twice in their eight remaining games of the Orlando “regular season.” No Oladipo almost guarantees two wins for the club, provided they come out of the hiatus firing on all cylinders.

This also raises the chances at a first-round matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers, Jimmy Butler‘s former team. Miami is currently the fourth seed in the East at 41-24, and set to play what would have been the fifth seed Pacers. This is most likely no longer the case.

That’s certainly an easier matchup in the first round than say Philadelphia, who will also play Indiana once in the upcoming eight game stretch for command of the fifth seed. Unless the Pacers go an entire 8-0 in the final stretch, it looks like a Heat-76ers matchup in the first round.

And while that’s bound to be entertaining, it’ll prove more difficult than the other option.

It’s a wide known fact that Pat Riley has Oladipo at the top of his 2021 free agent wishlist. Some have even gone as far to say the team will try to sign both him and Giannis Antetokounmpo. The guard’s decision to sit the rest of 2020 may actually greater the Heat’s chances.

Oladipo is eligible for a maximum extension starting in October, but the likelihood the Pacers offer that at the jump is shrinking quicker and quicker. They could always offer it halfway through next season, but it’s hard to see them buying into half a year of the guard being healthy.

If the Pacers let Oladipo become a free agent, Pat Riley’s going to get his guy.

Victor Oladipo’s plan to sit out the rest of the 2019-2020 campaign and focus on his rehab could have a number of repercussions for the Miami Heat. This decision will directly impact their fate in the playoffs, and likely raises their chances at signing him as a free agent in 2021.