Mark's Mailbag: Why is Oladipo Practicing with the Mad Ants?

Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Editor's Note: Some Mailbag questions have been edited for clarity and length.

Q. Do you expect the Pacers to be in the trade market this year given their depth?

If so, what position may need to be upgraded?

— Curtis

A. This one came in a couple of weeks ago, and I need to congratulate you for asking the first trade question of the season.

While it's impossible to predict now what their needs might be in February, it's safe to say the answer is the same as every season. If there's a deal the front office believes will improve the team, it will be made. That could include anybody, really. While some players are less likely to be traded than others, I consider virtually none to be untradeable. Any player can be traded for a slightly better player in the front office's judgement. And even the best player in the league, whoever that is, could be traded for a package of players that improves the team.

The pressing question for the Pacers at this moment is how well the Turner-Sabonis tandem works out. It's far too early to know now, but it's a promising combination and will be given time to mature.

Q. What is the best-guess timeline return for all of the current injured Pacers?

— Tim

A. Jeremy Lamb and T.J. McConnell returned against Orlando on Saturday and Malcolm Brogdon is set to play on Monday against Memphis, so that leaves Victor Oladipo and Edmond Sumner on the sideline.

Oladipo is progressing, but nobody is forecasting a return. I'm on record as saying I believe it will be earlier than generally anticipated, but that's just a gut feeling based on nobody's insight.

Sumner had the brace removed from his right hand this week, but he isn't expect to play next week, I don't believe.

Q. Do we know how long VO's #MadAnts stint will be?

— Jason

A. Oladipo has practiced twice with Fort Wayne, purely out of convenience. On days when the Pacers have a game or are not having practice, he is "sent down" to the Mad Ants to get in a workout. It could happen again as he continues his rehabilitation.

It will be interesting to see if he plays a game with the Mad Ants before returning to the Pacers. It doesn't happen often in the NBA, but it's common in baseball for a Major League star player to play a game or two with a Triple-A team to get back in the groove.

Q. Would you have the time to explain why Sabonis is allowed to extend his hip on screens without penalty sometimes, but he is penalized others? I'm confused on what is a legal screen. He seems to set them exactly the same all of the time.

— James

A. It's confusing for everyone. I've talked to him as well as to Nate McMillan and Detroit's coach, Dwyane Casey, and everybody is confused.

The league has gotten pretty loose about calling them. Just about every screen these days includes some movement. Refs don't want to call it every time and turn the game into a free throw shooting contest, but lately it seems they call it more often. I'm for calling it, because it gives the offense an unfair advantage — there's no way to defend a moving screen. But they have to be consistent with it, and Sabonis has been caught in the trap of inconsistency.

I'm just glad I don't have to make the call.

Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Mark Montieth's book on the formation and groundbreaking seasons of the Pacers, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," is available in bookstores throughout Indiana and on Amazon.com.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.