Mailbag: How far will Heat be willing to go to bring back Victor Oladipo in free agency?

·3 min read
Al Diaz/adiaz@miamiherald.com

The Miami Herald Heat mailbag is here to answer your questions this offseason.

If you were not able to ask this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang). You can also email them in to achiang@miamiherald.com.

Anthony D.: Keep Victor Oladipo and bet on him staying healthy?

Anthony Chiang: So much of the attention leading up to free agency in the Heat’s world has been on P.J. Tucker and Caleb Martin. But Victor Oladipo is another member of the Heat’s playoff rotation who will be a free agent (an unrestricted one) this summer.

Oladipo’s situation will be an interesting one. He contributed solid minutes off Miami’s bench this postseason, which is impressive considering that he made his season debut on March 7 following an 11-month recovery from surgery to repair the quadriceps tendon in his right knee. This marks the first full offseason that Oladipo has been healthy enough to work on his game since 2018.

Will a team take a chance on Oladipo and pay him even more than he’s projected to get on the open market with the hope that he may again resemble the player who was voted to the All-Star Game, NBA All-Defensive First Team and All-NBA Third Team and earned the NBA’s Most Improved Player award in 2017-18 as a member of the Indiana Pacers?

ESPN analyst and former Nets executive Bobby Marks wrote a few weeks ago that “Oladipo should see offers starting at the $6.4 million tax midlevel and up to the $10.3 million full midlevel.”

But the Heat has an advantage in that it holds Oladipo’s full Bird rights, which means it can exceed the salary cap to re-sign him up to his maximum salary despite entering free agency already without cap space.

The question is: How far will the Heat be willing to go to re-sign Oladipo? If Oladipo does get offers in the $10 million range, would the Heat match and bring back Oladipo on a two-year, $21 million contract? That’s not out of the question, and such a deal could also end up being a valuable trade chip with the potential he’s perceived to hold because of what he accomplished just a few years ago.

But something to keep in mind: The Heat will be hard capped at the apron that’s expected to be at around $155 million if it uses the $10.3 million non-taxpayer midlevel exception in free agency. While the Heat can offer Oladipo up to his max number because of Bird Rights, the hard cap (if triggered) could limit what Miami is able to offer him.

@kql5398: When does free agency officially start?

Anthony: The NBA has yet to officially announce this, but free-agent negotiations across the NBA can begin Thursday at 6 p.m. Free-agent signings will be permitted to start on July 6 at noon. In addition, Heat first-round pick Nikola Jovic can sign his rookie contract starting on Friday.

Buckle up.

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