After announcing his decision to sit out the resumed season in Orlando less than two weeks ago, Victor Oladipo is reportedly back on the bubble about playing in the bubble. In fact, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, there is now “growing belief” the two-time All-Star will be on hand for the Pacers when games start back up at the end of the month.
Interestingly enough, prior to when Oladipo abruptly pulled himself via the media before taking the time to inform his coach, the plan set up for determining his availability was, in effect, what just happened — ramping up activity at training camp and then evaluating how his repaired quad tendon responded, at least as was indicated by Nate McMillan.
“I’m expecting Victor to go down and work out and play some five-on-five and go through the training camp with us,” McMillan said, via Pacers.com. “Hopefully get in some games and get himself ready to play. But if he feels he’s not ready, or we think he doesn’t look right to play, then we will pull him. I’m sure he’ll pull himself.”
As a result, the entire way all of this was handled continues to be a little eyebrow raising in terms of how much simpler everything could’ve been if both sides had just proceeded with caution in private as was originally intended or at the very least agreed to a joint statement in the moment (see: Bradley Beal and the Wizards); however, from a basketball standpoint, this is clearly good news for the Pacers, who will now be in a better position to gauge their star player’s progress while also evaluating the team’s overall ceiling.
That said, given that Oladipo previously voiced concerns about the increased risk for soft tissue injuries in the bubble, the hope here of course is that he arrives at a final decision on whether to play based on how his body feels and not any outside noise or pressure.
Per reports from yesterday’s Zoom call, the two-time All-Star has been “going hard” at practices with no restrictions.
Prior to the shutdown, Oladipo had his best game of the season against the Celtics, scoring 27 points on the back of some hot shooting. If the two-time All-Star ultimately decides to rejoin the team for the seeding games, the Pacers theoretically will have more shot-creation to lean on when plays breakdown as well as greater flexibility to downsize with liked-sized defenders against smaller lineups — both of which could prove pivotal in a potential first-round meeting with the Miami Heat.
Oladipo has one year left on his four-year, $84 million contract.