Victor Oladipo is the latest player to opt out of participating in the NBA’s restarted season.
Oladipo is still working his way back from a ruptured quad he suffered in January 2019, and did not appear at full strength when he returned prior to the league shutdown. He told Shams Charania of The Athletic that he wanted to play, but did not feel comfortable due to the risks of the bubble and the danger of potential soft tissue injuries after so much time off.
“I really want to play, and as a competitor and teammate this is tearing me apart,” Oladipo said. “I feel like I’m at a great place in my rehab and getting closer and closer to 100 percent. With all the variables, from how I have to build my 5-on-5 workload back up, to the increased risk of a soft tissue injury which could delay my rehab, and the unknown exact set up of the bubble, I just can’t get my mind to being fully comfortable in playing. I have to be smart and this decision hasn’t been easy, but I truly believe continuing on the course I’m on and getting fully healthy for the 2020-21 season is the right decision for me.”
Oladipo missed a full year with his injury. When he returned before the NBA shutdown, he averaged 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game in 13 games. He admitted that he was not all that close to full strength in those games, which likely helped account for his modest stats.
The 28-year-old has been working with personal therapist Luke Miller during the shutdown. While the Pacers guard looks and feels good, he’s simply not willing to risk all that hard work being for naught by playing in this environment after that much time off.
Oladipo’s Pacers are 39-26 and occupy the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. They managed to go 32-20 without him in the lineup this season, so they’ll hope they can find that form again in spite of his absence.
Victor Oladipo did not quite look like himself through 13 games this season, and he wants to making sure that playing in the league’s planned Orlando restart is in his best interest before officially committing to it.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Saturday that the Indiana Pacers guard plans to ramp up his activity next week and evaluate his repaired quad tendon before making a final commitment to participating in Orlando.
Oladipo, the two-time All-Star, tore the quad in his right knee during a game in Jan. 2019. He returned this season roughly a full calendar year after his injury to average 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game but recently admitted that he was not fully healthy when he came back.
Players have until June 24 to inform their teams whether or not they will take part in the restart of play. Other stars have already voiced their concerns about the heightened risk of injury in Orlando, and it is especially so for Oladipo, who has to worry about his long-term value as a free agent in 2021.
Victor Oladipo will be a member of the hallowed 2021 free agent class, but the market for him in particular may not be too robust at this point.
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps reported in a feature on Monday that many scouts and executives around the league are skeptical about committing to the Indiana Pacers star on a big deal.
“The tricky thing for me with Oladipo is [that] this guy has had a relatively long career and he had one year at an All-NBA level and that’s really the only All-Star-level [year he’s had],” one anonymous Eastern Conference executive was quoted as saying. “Last year, he wasn’t as good before he got hurt. Previous [to Indiana], he wasn’t playing unbelievably, either.”
Oladipo, who recently turned 28, is currently on his third NBA team in seven career seasons. While his 2017-18 campaign (23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.4 steals a game) was indeed top-notch, much of the enthusiasm surrounding him was lost when he tore his right quad in Jan. 2019.
The former No. 2 overall pick struggled to regain his form when he returned from the injury this season and later even admitted that he came back at less than full health. While Oladipo still has plenty of time to rebuild his value, the skepticism around the league is understandable until he proves that he can produce at an All-Star level again.
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“I had a great game. I played well,” Oladipo said of a 27-point outing against Boston in Indiana’s last game prior to the suspension of play in March. “But I’d be lying if I said I was even 80 percent out there.
“I kind of just jumped right in, right in the middle of the year. It was different for me,” he added. “But now I get a chance to kind of reset, restart.”
Oladipo, the two-time All-Star, suffered the quad tear in Jan. 2019. He returned to the court over a full calendar year later and only managed an output of 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists a game in 13 appearances.
The Pacers were the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference at the time of the shutdown, so hopefully Oladipo will still have a chance to salvage his 2019-20 campaign somewhat. Quad tears are a very tricky injury to come back from though, as one fellow NBA star can attest to.
Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo is plotting a return to action by the end of the month.
Oladipo, who has been out for a year after rupturing a tendon in his knee, told Shams Charania of The Athletic that he is targeting Jan. 29 against the Chicago Bulls as his date to return to action, while adding that it could yet change.
Pacers star Victor Oladipo tells @Stadium he plans to make season debut on Jan. 29 against Chicago and discusses emotions returning from yearlong absence after torn quad tendon in knee. Stay tuned for my full sitdown. pic.twitter.com/lmzwsKmwav
The fact that there’s a targeted return date at all will be music to the ears of Pacers fans. Oladipo had blossomed into an All-NBA player before the devastating injury cost him a year just as he was entering his physical prime. In 2017-18, his last full season before the injury, he averaged 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.4 steals per game.
The Pacers have held out okay without Oladipo this season, going 23-14. While it might take him some time to get back to his best, having him at all is a boost to their playoff chances. Given he’s right on schedule with previous reporting, it sounds like his rehab went well, too.
Oladipo, 27, was the No. 2 overall draft pick by the Orlando Magic in 2013 and traded to the Pacers by the Thunder as part of the Paul George trade prior to the 2017-2018 season. He enjoyed a breakout year with the Pacers in his first season with them, averaging a career-high 23.1 points, 4.3 assists, and 2.4 blocks while shooting 47.7 percent from the field.
In 36 games last season, Oladipo averaged 18.8 points per game. The Pacers entered Wednesday 21-10 on the season