An MRI has confirmed what the Pacers feared, Victor Oladipo will miss the remainder of the season with a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee, the team announced Thursday.
According to the update, he will undergo surgery at a later date.
The injury occurred during the second quarter of last night’s game with the Toronto Raptors when Oladipo crumpled to the floor attempting to intercept a pass to Pascal Siakam. He then was heard yelling out in pain and quickly had his kneecap covered with a towel before being stretchered off the floor.
“That kid has a beautiful spirit about him,” Nate McMillan said of Oladipo in his postgame press conference. “He’s one of the, if not the most positive guy on this team. He always tries to lift his team and lift us. We’ve got to lift him now and support him.”
With only 14 days remaining until the trade deadline, Kevin Pritchard has some tough decisions to make about the direction of the team and in what form he wants that support to come for a player who found his sound with relentless speed and skilled agility.
After the Pacers went on to defeat the Raptors, Indiana’s President of Basketball Operations took to Twitter to express his admiration for the way his team stepped up to earn an emotional win over a formidable opponent.
Not counting last night’s gutsy performance, the Pacers have gone 7-4 in games this season without Oladipo. That being said, they’ve also recently suffered one-sided losses to Toronto, Boston, and Philadelphia with the high-octane guard back in the lineup, although not quite back to being himself.
As such, not having the best player on the floor against the best teams in the East was already one thing. Not having their own best player on the floor against the best teams in the East is quite another.
Before Oladipo went down, the Pacers were in position to try to upgrade their roster as buyers, or stand pat and maintain their financial flexibility for free agency. With Oladipo hurt, they’ll likely play things out with the current crew or **gulp** attempt to shop for reinforcements, but they have to at least consider planning for the future in a market with lots of potential buyers and very few sellers.
If the team’s brass suspects that Oladipo’s timetable might end up altering the free agency choices of prospective new additions or players like Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young, or Cory Joseph, the Pacers may want to preemptively take phone calls from rival teams concerning their six players on expiring contracts (at least regarding those who may not be in their long-term plans) — that is, unless the only offers are middling picks attached to bad deals that extend beyond next season.
At the same time, however, they have to weigh the potential rate of return (i.e. assets, playing time for young players) against the cost that weakening a competitive team filled with valued veterans could have on the development of Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis.
Tanking isn’t their style, and it also isn’t particularly feasible. They’re 17 games above .500 with only 35 games left to play, and the current seventh and eighth seeds in the East have losing records.
As a good team with clean books and a rock solid culture, the Pacers have options to pick up the pieces but their next move feels a little like pulling a brick from a Jenga tower.
Pritchard didn’t panic when Paul George delivered a “gut-punch” to the Pacers with news of his desired departure.
How he responds over the coming weeks to the team’s latest crushing blow — an unexpected jab dealt to the franchise player he received in-exchange for the team’s previous franchise player — could also end up having dramatic effect, for better or worse.