Indiana Pacers’ Oladipo won’t play in restarted season

Victor Oladipo is concerned about re-injury and has cited a lack of comfort with playing in the "bubble."

Victor Oladipo has career averages of 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 steals in seven NBA seasons.   -  AP

Indiana Pacers star guard Victor Oladipo will skip the restarted season in the Orlando area, the team confirmed on Friday.

Oladipo played in just 13 games before the season was interrupted by the coronavirus, missing the first 47 games due to a torn right quad tendon sustained in January 2019. He is concerned about re-injury and also cited a lack of comfort with the restart situation.

“I really want to play, and as a competitor and team-mate this is tearing me apart,” Oladipo told The Athletic. “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 five-on-five workload back up, to the increased risk of a soft tissue injury which could delay my rehab, and the unknown exact setup 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.”

‘Health No. 1 priority’

Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said in a statement, “We totally respect and understand Victor’s decision to not play in the restart of the NBA’s season. The first priority for our players is, and always will be, their health, whether that be physical or mental health.

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“Victor has looked great in workouts, but the timing of the restart and lack of five-on-five activity makes it difficult to for him to commit to playing at the high level he expects with regards to further injury. His future health is the No. 1 priority and we look forward to having him back at full strength for the 2020-21 season.

“This is not a unique situation for our team, playing without key players like Victor and Jeremy Lamb. This team has shown great resolve in responding to adversity and we fully expect this will be no different. We remain excited about what they can accomplish in Orlando.”

‘It’s about longevity’

Oladipo recently increased his workout activity to get a better gauge on where he stood health-wise. He indicated on Wednesday that “longevity” was more important than making a short-term decision.

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“A part of rehab is working your way back and getting yourself to 100 percent, so at the end of the day, going back and turning things up as quickly as we’re about to do, and pretty much going to playoff formation and playoff games after eight games, I’m more susceptible to injury than anyone else is,” Oladipo said. “So, it’s not about now, it’s about longevity.”

Oladipo returned from his injury in January. He averaged 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, three assists and 0.8 steals in 13 games (10 starts), averaging 25.9 minutes per game. During back-to-back All-Star campaigns in 2017-18 and 2018-19, he averaged 21.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.1 steals in 33.3 minutes.

In seven NBA seasons, Oladipo has career averages of 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 steals. He also has played for the Orlando Magic (2013-14 to 2015-16) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (2016-17).

The Pacers (39-26) are currently tied with Philadelphia for fifth in the Eastern Conference. They are slated to resume the season against the 76ers on August 1.

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