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Sunday’s anecdote that Victor Oladipo turned down a two-year, $45.2-million contract extension offer from the Houston Rockets understandably made headlines. But as the two-time All-Star sees it, there’s not a lot to the story. It also doesn’t appear to be that recent.
Per the terms of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, that offer is the most the Rockets could offer Oladipo during the season. Given the extensive injury history of the 28-year-old in recent years, most expect him to want a longer-term deal than two seasons. Houston can eventually offer Oladipo a four-year deal worth over $100 million, but not until June.
Nonetheless, given the recent storyline, Oladipo was asked about the report after Monday’s loss by the Rockets to Cleveland. After clarifying that the offer was made some time ago, here’s what he said:
That actually wasn’t yesterday. That was a long time ago. They came at me with the offer. It was more along the lines of, ‘We know you’re not going to accept it, but we still want you to understand that we want you here.’ It was more that gesture, than anything. Didn’t go out of my way to ask, or anything like that. It was just kind of put in front of me, or given to me, to show that they want me to be here.
I didn’t get a chance to say yes or no. They already were under the understanding, or they knew I wasn’t going to accept it, anyway. It’s business. That’s how this business works. I’m just focused on getting better. I’ve got to get minutes. Everything else will take care of itself.
While the Rockets couldn’t offer more than that figure, even if they wanted to, it does give general manager Rafael Stone an idea as to what Oladipo might be looking for in the 2021 offseason — which is when he will become a free agent. If that figure isn’t in line with how the Rockets view his value, it could make sense for Houston to pursue a deal by the March 25 trade deadline, rather than risk losing him for no compensation.
Entering Monday, Oladipo was averaging 18.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in 31.4 minutes per game with the Rockets, and he’s also among the team’s most valuable defensive players. Houston acquired the 6-foot-4 guard in mid-January as part of the blockbuster four-team trade that sent longtime superstar James Harden to Brooklyn.