Among the concerns players have about the NBA’s restart plan in Orlando is the increased risk of injury they will be subjecting themselves to once life in the bubble starts after such a long layover from playing 5-on-5, let alone actual game action. In fact, according to the league’s health and safety protocols, teams won’t be allowed to resume full-team workouts and practices until at least July 9 — nearly four months since the league shutdown on March 11. For Victor Oladipo, who is about to enter the final year of his contract and only just started to regain his rhythm after missing the equivalent of a full-season of basketball with a ruptured quad tendon, this means he would have roughly 21 days to work himself back into game-shape before the seeding games start.
That’s why, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, he plans to listen to his body before making a final decision on whether to finish the 2019-20 season.
“I feel a whole lot better,” Oladipo told ESPN. “I know there’s risk going into it with the unique situation that I’m in — being off so long and trying to ramp it up that fast. I’ve just got to be smart, that’s all.”
From easing his way back into things with a minutes restrictions to sitting out the second night of a back-to-back and closely monitoring his swelling, the Pacers have exercised an abundance of cautious with Oladipo’s status while keeping pace in the Eastern Conference standings and going 32-20 in games played without him. Of course, as last season demonstrated, maintaining that sort of win-pace tends to prove more difficult in the playoffs when shot-creation and star power become paramount.
Nevertheless, even if Oladipo feels ready to play, there’s a chance that others on the team may elect to sit out; and whether they choose to do so out of concern for the growing number of cases of COVID-19 in Florida or in order to avoid distracting from the nationwide fight for social justice, there’s no denying that this is a brutally tough decision that everyone involved should be free to make for their own reasons — especially if they aren’t at 100 percent.
Players only have until June 24 (yes, four days from now) to let their teams know if they plan on participating in the restart of the league year; however, in Oladipo’s case, as Wojnarowski notes, the Pacers can simply opt to keep him on the roster and then sign a replacement player in the event he has to sit due to injury.
Aided by some hot shooting, Indiana’s franchise player started to look more like himself in the team’s final outing before the shutdown after starting out the season averaging 12 points on 37 percent shooting over his first 12 games.