NBA free agency 2023: Heat reportedly trading injured G Victor Oladipo to Thunder in salary-cap maneuver

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Miami Heat guard Victor Oladipo runs the offense against the Charlotte Hornets during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023. Charlotte won 122-117. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
Victor Oladipo is reportedly on the move to Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

In a salary-cap maneuver, the Miami Heat are trading injured guard Victor Oladipo and draft compensation to the Oklahoma City Thunder, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

With the move, the Thunder acquire Oladipo’s expiring $9.45 million contract for nothing in return. The Heat gain a corresponding $9.45 million trade exception in the deal.

The exception allows the Heat to take on up to $9.45 million in salary via trade that won’t count against the salary cap or luxury tax calculation. They already have a $4.7 million exception after trading Dewayne Dedmon to the San Antonio Spurs in February. Per ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the move leaves Miami $6.5 million below the second $182.5 million luxury tax apron that carries significant penalties in the new collective bargaining agreement.

Miami is facing roster changes after advancing to the NBA Finals, where the Heat lost in five games to the Denver Nuggets. They started Friday’s free agency with guard Gabe Vincent leaving town to join the Los Angeles Lakers. Unrestricted free agent Max Strus left Saturday morning via a sign-and-trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Oladipo tore the patellar tendon in his left leg during a playoff game in April. There’s reportedly optimism he could resume basketball activities within six months of the injury and potentially return to the court next season, but that’s no guarantee. It’s not clear if he’ll be able to play next season for Oklahoma City, where he previously spent the 2016-17 season.

Oladipo’s patellar tendon tear is the latest in a string of serious injuries that have stunted the two-time All-Star’s career. He ruptured the quadriceps tendon in his right knee in 2019, sidelining him for a calendar year. He reinjured the same tendon in 2021 upon joining the Heat and played just 33 games that season and eight the next. At 31 years old, he’ll look to mount another comeback with a team where he’s experienced success if he remains in Oklahoma City.

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