Oladipo: There's a Strong Possibility I Might Play

July 15, 2020 - Pacers All-Star guard Victor Oladipo explains why he is reconsidering his decision to sit out the 2019-20 NBA season restart after participating in practices with the team in Orlando.

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Oladipo: There's a Strong Possibility I Might Play

July 15, 2020 - Pacers All-Star guard Victor Oladipo explains why he is reconsidering his decision to sit out the 2019-20 NBA season restart after participating in practices with the team in Orlando.
Jul 15, 2020  |  02:14

Myles Turner Feeling Comfortable Back on Court

July 13, 2020 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan discusses Myles Turner's growth during the 2019-20 season and four-month hiatus and then Turner shares his thoughts on being back on the practice court in Orlando.
Jul 13, 2020  |  01:58

McMillan, Sabonis on Pacers' Conditioning

July 12, 2020 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan and forward Domantas Sabonis discuss the Pacers' fitness level after holding their first two practices in fourth months.
Jul 12, 2020  |  02:36

Pacers Come Out of Quarantine for First Practice

July 11, 2020 - After a 48-hour quarantine after arriving at the NBA restart bubble in Orlando, Pacers head coach Nate McMillan and players T.J. Warren and T.J. McConnell spoke with the media following the team's first practice in four months.
Jul 11, 2020  |  02:26

Oladipo "Trending Upward" as He Considers Playing in Orlando

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer

Twelve days ago, Victor Oladipo said he would join his teammates in practice but not play when the NBA season resumed in Orlando. Wednesday, he confirmed speculation that he might play after all.

The change of heart has come, he said, from how his body has responded in the four workouts the team has conducted since arriving in Orlando.

"At the end of the day, back then I made a decision that was best for my career," he said via a video conference call from the Pacers' practice site. "Is that wrong for me to do? I don't think so. Coming here, reassessing it, being able to have the resources to play against these guys at a high level, go out here and see where my knee's at, see how my knee is progressing with a heavy load, and then making a decision...there's a possibility I might play.

"I'm going to try it out. Is that wrong for me to do?"

Oladipo, who suffered a torn quad muscle during the 2018-19 season, is not declaring he will play for certain and has plenty of time to reach a decision. The Pacers have their first of three exhibition scrimmages on July 23 against Portland and resume their regular season on Aug. 1.

"Right now, I'm definitely trying to play," he said. "There's no definite answer, but I'm trending upward."

Oladipo also was trending upward in his performance when the NBA season was suspended. He had played in 13 games from his return on Jan. 29 to their final pre-lockdown game on March 10. He averaged 10.8 points while hitting just 29.5 percent of his field goals in his first six games, then averaged 16.3 points on 48.2 shooting in the next seven. He missed four games because of knee soreness amid those seven games.

He said the limited opportunities to continue to rehabilitate during the pandemic layoff led to his uncertainty about playing.

"It's been a tough couple of years, obviously," he said. "I'm trying to be smart because I want to play the next 10 years.

"I'm monitoring it with extreme caution. If I was your brother your son or your husband or somebody you loved, what would you tell him? You'd say, 'Be sure you're healthy and do what's best for you.' That's what all of you would say if I was one of your loved ones. That's what anybody would say. Just because I'm an athlete and can perform at a high level, be cognizant of the fact I am human.

"Some days I'm not, don't get me wrong," he added, laughing. "I can be a superhero any day, I'm telling you. As a matter of fact, I am. But even superheroes have kryptonite. But I am coming out here and trying my best, taking one day at a time, I feel like the universe will manifest itself and whatever will happen will happen."

There has been speculation Oladipo has a financial motivation to play because league rules state a healthy player must participate in the remaining games to earn his salary. He said that was not a consideration.

"I haven't talked to (league officials)," he said. "That's out of my control. Honestly, I don't even know the amount or what goes into it. I'm just focused on my knee. Other people handle that, I guess. I just want to play basketball."

Pacers coach Nate McMillan spoke before Oladipo and deflected questions about his All-Star's status to Oladipo. He did, however, speak to the obvious impact Oladipo's return should have on the team if it occurs. The Pacers, who take a 39-26 record into the remainder of the season, have played just five games with their intended starting lineup of Oladipo, Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis.

They lost their first game with that lineup to Brooklyn by one point, then defeated Milwaukee (without Giannis Antetokounmpo), New York, Portland, and Cleveland.

"You're bringing in another major option," McMillan said.

"We only had opportunities to look at that first group together (for five games), so they really haven't had a lot of time playing together. What he brings is another strong weapon to that lineup (offensively and defensively)."

McMillan hasn't broken the team down by starters and backups in his five-on-five work in practice, but at least had his likely starters available for the first time in Orlando on Wednesday. Brogdon had been quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19 before the team left for Orlando but has been approved to play.

"Today he looked really good out there with our group," McMillan said of Brogdon.

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.


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