MIAMI — Three days after Victor Oladipo opted into the $9.5 million second and final season on the two-year contract he signed with the team last July, the Miami Heat dealt the veteran guard Friday to the Oklahoma City Thunder as a means of reducing the team’s payroll.
The move eases the Heat’s position against the punitive NBA luxury tax and creates a $9.5 million trade exception.
Expected to be sidelined well into the coming season by a knee injury sustained during the opening round of the playoffs, Oladipo lost any free-agency leverage with the torn left patellar tendon sustained April 22 against the Milwaukee Bucks, finishing the postseason on crutches following April 27 surgery.
Having formally opted in ahead of Thursday’s deadline, Oladipo, 31, made himself trade eligible, with the Heat making that move late Friday night.
Oladipo last summer initially agreed to a one-year, $11 million contract, but the deal then was reworked to a smaller $8.5 million starting point for this past season, with the security of a second season. The lower 2022-23 figure made it easier for the Heat to work within the parameters of the 2022-23 luxury tax.
The extra season, however, stood as problematic on the payroll until Friday’s move.
Oladipo appeared in 42 games this past season (two starts), averaging 10.7 points, 3.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 1.36 steals in 26.3 minutes. He scored 30 points off the bench on April 7 at Washington, the most off the bench in his career, and recorded five steals as a reserve on December 17 at San Antonio, tying the fourth-most by a Heat reserve.
Ultimately, Oladipo’s final moment with the Heat could be one that came in mop-up duty of a blowout playoff victory over the top-seeded Bucks, when he injured his knee.
Acquired by the Heat at the March 2021 NBA trading deadline from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley and a draft-pick swap, Oladipo missed extensive time at the starts of the past two seasons recovering from ailments, appearing in only eight regular-season games in 2021-22 and then the 42 this past season.