Houston Rockets shooting guard Victor Oladipo is expected to be one of the hottest names on the market before the 2021 trade deadline. The Rockets are yet to make him officially available on the trading block, but since his arrival in Space City, rumors have been swirling that he's not interested in staying with the team. Instead of taking the risk of losing him in free agency, it might be best for the Rockets to flip his expiring contract into assets that could help them speed up the rebuilding process.
One of the potential landing spots for Oladipo before the 2021 trade deadline is the New Orleans Pelicans. In a recent article, Brett Siegel of the NBA Analysis Network suggested a potential deal that would enable Oladipo to join forces with Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson in New Orleans for the 2020-21 NBA season. In the proposed scenario, the Pelicans would send a package that includes Lonzo Ball, JJ Redick, and a 2021 first-round pick to the Rockets in exchange for Oladipo and Ben McLemore.
Despite his injury history and expiring contract, Siegel believes that trading for Oladipo would make a lot of sense for the Pelicans, especially if they hope to end their playoff drought this year.
"Adding Oladipo to their roster would be a massive addition for the New Orleans Pelicans, an organization that is looking to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2018 when they made the Western Conference Semifinals. Nobody from that team is on the Pelicans' roster anymore and with All-Star talents like Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, Oladipo would be the 'cherry on top' for this roster. Anytime you have two All-Star talents on your roster, you have a chance to be a legit playoff team, but when you are able to have three All-Star talents, your team is now a legit contender in their conference."
Ingram and Williamson may be establishing themselves as All-Stars this season, but it's clearly not enough for the Pelicans to be considered as a legitimate playoff contender. They are on a two-game losing streak, sitting in the No. 12 spot in the Western Conference with a 5-9 record. Though bringing Oladipo to New Orleans wouldn't make them an instant title contender, it would give them a realistic chance of returning to the playoffs.
The potential arrival of Oladipo would significantly improve the Pelicans' performance on both ends of the floor, giving them a reliable third scoring option behind Ingram and Williamson as well as a decent ball-handler, playmaker, floor-spacer, and perimeter defender. This season, the 28-year-old shooting guard is averaging 21.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.8 steals while shooting 42.6 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from beyond the arc, per Basketball-Reference.com.
Meanwhile, the suggested trade would be a no-brainer for the Rockets as it would enable them to turn an expiring contract into a young and promising point guard in Ball and a future first-round selection. Though he would also be hitting free agency next offseason, it would be easier for the Rockets to re-sign Ball. Since he would be a restricted free agent, the only thing that Houston needs to do to bring him back is to match offers from other teams.