Welp...Victor Oladipo is apparently no longer on the bubble about playing in the bubble. After ramping up activity with the Pacers this week and taking the opportunity to evaluate his repaired quad tendon, the two-time All-Star has officially decided to sit out the resumed season in Orlando, reports The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
“I really want to play, and as a competitor and teammate 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 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. 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.”
When speaking with reporters earlier this week, head coach Nate McMillan indicated that he expected Oladipo to play some 5-on-5 and go through training camp before making a final decision, which makes today’s announcement — released on the Friday before a holiday weekend — somewhat of an eyebrow raiser.
That said, among the many concerns players have voiced about the NBA’s restart plan 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 live-game action. According to the league’s health and safety protocols, teams won’t be allowed to resume full-team workouts and practices until the end of next week — marking nearly four months since the league shutdown on March 11. For Oladipo, who is about to enter the final year of his contract and had only just started to regain his rhythm after missing the equivalent of a full-season of basketball, this means he would’ve had roughly only 20 days to work himself back into game-shape before the seeding games start at the end of the month.
Per ESPN’s Bobby Marks, Oladipo will forfeit a projected $3 million by electing to sit out (update: this loss of compensation won’t apply since he is joining the team in Orlando); however, by focusing on his rehab and (hopefully) staying healthy, both he and the Pacers stand to gain far more in the long-run.
Despite his decision not to play, Charania reports that Oladipo still plans to travel with the team to Orlando, which means the Pacers won’t be able to sign a substitute to replace him.