The Indiana Pacers were swept by the Miami Heat in the first round of the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs but there is simply no time to mourn. Pacers fans would not be wrong to fancy their chances at an NBA title sometime in the near future, despite how the 2020 post-season turned out. After all, their roster is filled with relatively young yet already fantastic NBA players. Arguably the most naturally talented player in the Indiana Pacers squad is former All-Star guard Victor Oladipo, who has had numerous NBA Trade Rumors link him away from Indy.
Victor Oladipo was gradually developing into one of the best two-way players in the NBA before a disheartening knee injury kept him out on the sidelines for a long time, essentially stunting his growth. While the 28-year-old has shown flashes of his old self, he is yet to find any sort of consistency in his performances.
NBA Trade Rumors suggest that the Indiana Pacers could be willing to look at moving Victor Oladipo this off-season, so now the challenge for them is to maximize their returns.
NBA Trade Rumors: Indiana Pacers must prioritize Caris LeVert
A number of NBA Championship contenders have apparently shown interest in acquiring Victor Oladipo this off-season as his ceiling is still very high. He could be the X-factor that lifts a franchise from mediocrity, and many are willing to take a leap of faith and invest in Victor Oladipo.
The 6'4" guard also has only year remaining on his current contract and could walk for nothing if the Indiana Pacers decide to keep him. In all honesty, they must cash in on him while he still has value rather than risk letting him go for no assets in return.
Victor Oladipo averaged a meagre 14.5 points per game this season - his lowest tally since his rookie season. That being said, he is a 17.3 points per game scorer and an excellent defender with 1.7 steals, when the entirety of his NBA career is considered.
Moreover, just two seasons back, he averaged a career-high 23.1 points and 2.4 steals per game. Those are numbers that franchises would be willing to take a gamble on, and the Indiana Pacers have to sell him to the best of their ability.
Caris LeVert career statistics
Career points per game - 12.7 Career assists per game - 3.6
Career rebounds per game - 3.7
Career field goal % - 43.3%
Career 3pt % - 33.9%
The best possible option for the Indiana Pacers, if it was up to them, would be to try and get Caris LeVert from the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets will be trying their best to win an NBA title next season when Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant return to fitness.
They also potentially have a 3rd star in Caris LeVert but he's just turned 26 and will certainly take longer to reach his peak. As a result, it makes sense to try and trade for Victor Oladipo, who's more prepared to help the Brooklyn Nets straightaway than Caris LeVert.
Caris LeVert has often exploded to put up humongous numbers in the absence of usual suspects, be it Kyrie Irving this season or D'Angelo Russell the one before.
In the NBA bubble, Caris LeVert played some of the best basketball of his life as he led the Brooklyn Nets youngsters up against the big boys of the league, although he did get swept in the first round of the playoffs.
Caris LeVert had the best season of his career in 2019-20 as he averaged 18.7 points per game. That being said, he is a ball dominant player and needs to take a heavy volume of shots to put up big numbers, given that he only shot 42.5% from the field.
That is unlikely to happen in the presence of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, so it could be best for both Caris LeVert and the Brooklyn Nets to swap him for Victor Oladipo.
NBA Trade Rumors: Do the Indiana Pacers need to give up more for Caris LeVert?
A straight swap could get the job done as it is a fairly uncomplicated deal on paper. Both players earn similar salaries as Caris LeVert's contract extension, worth around $17.5 million per season through the next three years, kicks in from 2020-21. A longer contract will give the Indiana Pacers peace of mind as they need not worry about a star leaving for free anymore. Any additional players or picks would only be required if either team decides to play hardball.
The Brooklyn Nets will have a low risk-high reward player in Victor Oladipo, whose contract expires next season. If he works out well with the franchise, they could decide to renew his deal. If he doesn't fit in well enough, they will always have the liberty to let him walk and focus on the loaded 2021 free agency class. It shouldn't be tough luring good NBA players when two of the best in the league are in the same team.
Published 15 Sep 2020, 04:00 IST