With only three weeks remaining until the start of training camp, it appears as though the Pacers will have to wait still longer to get a look at the projecting starting lineup in action, as the team announced today that T.J. Warren will be out indefinitely.
Per release, the stress fracture in Warren’s left foot is healing, but not at the pace previously anticipated. Earlier this summer, in what seemed like a positive (and extremely pure and wholesome) update of his status, Warren shared in a tweet that he had “played basketball” and “had fun.” Today, however, as a follow-up to the team’s announcement, he tweeted the following, essentially indicating that he doesn’t want to risk cutting any corners.
“Pacers fans. Just wanted you to hear this straight from me. I’m making sure I do this rehab process right so that I can get back on the court as soon as I can and be the best that I can.”
Pacer fans. Just wanted you to hear this straight from me. I’m making sure I do this rehab process right so that I can get back on the court as soon as I can and be the best that I can.— TJ Warren (@TonyWarrenJr) September 7, 2021
Warren, who underwent surgery on January 5 to repair the small left navicular stress fracture, hasn’t appeared in uniform for the Pacers since December of last year, when he emerged from the loss against the Boston Celtics with foot soreness. With the same injury now potentially carrying over into next season, it’s surely a frustrating setback for both sides, as Warren has yet to have a chance to build on the momentum he gained playing in the Orlando bubble (scoring 30 or more points in four of his six seeding games), and the Pacers still don’t fully know what they have in the current roster at full strength.
That said, by comparison to last season, when Jeremy Lamb and Justin Holiday were both pressed into action at the four-spot, the team at least appears to have a steadier supply of relief, between Torrey Craig, Oshae Brissett, and perhaps Kelan Martin, to attempt to make due against bigger wings in a pinch. This, of course, also says nothing of rookie Chris Duarte, whose mix of tough shot-making and skills as an anticipatory defender could also come in handy with regard to providing a reasonable, though far less experienced, facsimile for some of what Warren has to offer.
Overall, given how much the team missed Warren’s scoring-ability last year, as well as his on-ball defense, exercising caution makes sense for both sides, who notably appear to be on the same page. After all, with Warren about to enter a contract year, it seems to stand out that this update, unlike what was the case when Victor Oladipo was wavering on whether to play in the bubble, was first communicated directly by the team.