Victor Oladipo’s decision boils down to this:
$3 million and competing with Pacers teammates for a championship in Orlando versus increased chance for longterm health and a contract worth $100 million-plus over five years beginning in the 2021-2022 season.
That is a big ass decision that should not be scoffed at by those on either side of the discussion. Yes, the old school edict of adhering to the terms of a signed contract should mean something, but if Oladipo happened to re-injure that surgically repaired torn quad tendon during this strange season re-start, his longterm financial future would become cloudy.
At the end of sext season, Oladipo’s career earnings will total $105 million, so no one would weep for his financial well-being if he tore the tendon again. But he’ll likely retire with $250-$300 million if the leg stays healthy, and he signs a giant extension with the Pacers.
The variable in the equation that Oladipo needs to consider as he weighs his options is that virtually no one his age in NBA history has suffered this injury. That means no one knows exactly what the risk of playing is. Oladipo is the first, and that puts him in a lonely place with uncertain medical advice from doctors who don’t know exactly what to expect.
Add to that the current absence of Domas Sabonis – the team’s only all-star this season – and maybe Oladipo feels this Orlando experiment is academic with or without him. Or, maybe given his miserable inefficiency (10 points on 4-for-16 shooting) in yesterday’s final scrimmage, Oladipo feels like his best move is to go to work for next season.
This is a tough call if Oladipo thinks about it too much. For many, the decision is simple. If you love basketball, competing, your contract, and your team – you play regardless of $3M, $100M, or what teammates are available. “I am a player, so I will play,” you remind yourself, and off you go.
There has been a bizarre social media debate among Pacers fans as to who the team leader is – Victor Oladipo or Malcolm Brogdon. If Oladipo opts out, his teammates may empathize with him and understand how difficult it is to merge the roles of businessman and teammate, but they will never follow him. A decision to not play will reveal that leadership is not in Oladipo’s DNA, but increases his odds of becoming wealthy beyond comprehension.
The decision to play would endear Oladipo to fans who chafed when he announced his intention to opt out four weeks ago. He walked that back shortly after learning that he would lose out on $3 million if he skipped out while healthy enough to play, but fans still didn’t care for it.
Oladipo became the refreshing face of the Pacers after being acquired in exchange for malcontent Paul George, but If he chooses to abandon his teammates in Orlando, many fans will view that as a pragmatic act from a rich and pampered athlete.
There is another decision awaiting Oladipo – sign an extension or bolt for another port of call. That decision would be made simple by a sudden negative turn in Oladipo’s popularity. If he plays, most Pacers fans will love him. If he sits, some in Indy will never trust him again. The Pacers would be loathe to sign a permanently stained player to the max deal Oladipo would be due.
The next 24 hours are crucial for the short-term future of the Pacers, and massive for the long-term future of Oladipo as a member of the team and Indianapolis resident.
Fascinating times for the feathery one.