Victor Oladipo — a two-time NBA All-Star and the Indiana Pacers’ cornerstone player — has opted not to join his squad for the league’s upcoming restart in Orlando, Florida, which will include the 22 teams that were in playoff contention before the season was suspended.
The Athletic‘s Shams Charania reported on Oladipo’s decision on Friday. Via Sports Illustrated, the 28-year-old revealed to Charania that he has a strong desire to participate but ultimately elected to opt-out in favor of continuing his injury rehab, given the unique conditions of the restart and possible injury risk.
“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.”
The Pacers guard further stated that he has to be smart with this decision and will now focus on coming back at full strength for the 2020-21 NBA season.
As reported previously by The Inquisitr, Oladipo had increased his activity level of late in an effort to gauge his readiness for the resumed season, which is scheduled to begin on July 30 with games emanating from the Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World. According to Charania, Oladipo has been training with his physical therapist, Luke Miller, for the past three months.
For his part, Miller believes Oladipo is nearing top form, “but he’s not there yet and he knows the work to get back there.”
Oladipo suffered from a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee during a January 2019 game against the Toronto Raptors. The injury ended his 2018-19 season and further kept him out of commission for the first half of the current campaign. Before the league halted operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in early March, Oladipo had appeared in just 13 games while playing reduced minutes.
Before his injury, Oladipo had been playing the best basketball of his life. Over 75 appearances during the 2017-18 season, he averaged 23 points, five rebounds, four assists, and a league-leading 2.4 steals per game.
Entering their eight-game Orlando seeding slate, the Pacers sit at fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 39-26. In Oladipo’s absence, the team has been led by Domantas Sabonis and T.J. Warren, both of whom have put up more than 18 points per contest with effective field goal percentages over 55 percent.