Sabonis' Absence Creates All-Too-Familiar Situation for Pacers

Pacers center Domantas Sabonis is back at his offseason home in Los Angeles to receive further treatment for his plantar fasciitis, and his status for the resumption of the Pacers' season is in jeopardy.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan said via a video conference call on Saturday that Sabonis would be out "indefinitely." He added a decision would be made "in another week or two."

That means Sabonis likely will miss at least part of the regular season, which for the Pacers returns on Aug. 1. He also will have to go back into quarantine for a couple of days if and when he returns to Orlando.

McMillan said Sabonis left the NBA "bubble" because he believed he would have access to better treatment in Los Angeles.

Sabonis is the Pacers' only All-Star from earlier this season as well as their leading rebounder (12.4) and second-leading scorer (18.5, just two-tenths of a point behind T.J. Warren). He has missed three games this season. The Pacers won two of them, but both were against Chicago, a non-playoff team with a 22-43 record.

For a while at least, it will be another adjustment forced upon McMillan, who has had his intended starting lineup together for just five games all season because of injuries.

"If there's anything good about this, we have been going through this all season long," McMillan said. "We have to make some adjustments with our starting lineup as well as our bench."

Sabonis' loss will be felt as much with the second unit as the starters. McMillan typically pulls him out of the game first among the starters and then reinserts him with the second unit. Sabonis has been a desperately needed rebounder for that undersized unit and a key element of its superior ball movement.

Myles Turner, who sat out Thursday's exhibition victory over Portland, could return for Sunday's scrimmage against Dallas and start at center. Rookie Goga Bitadze, however, has yet to practice in Orlando because of soft tissue damage. That leaves JaKarr Sampson and TJ Leaf as the only certainties at the position.

Sampson started against Portland and finished with seven points and four rebounds in 22 minutes. Leaf, drafted as a "four," came off the bench and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds in 18 minutes. He's undersized at the position at 225 pounds but believes he can play it effectively against most NBA centers.

"My dad (Brad, a Lawrence North High School graduate) told me at a young age, when you get rebounds other things are going to open up," Leaf said Saturday. "It's something I've always tried to carry with me. Just focus on that first and let the rest of the game come to me."

Leaf hit just 1-of-9 shots in the first scrimmage, partially because he had to adjust to shooting from different places.

"I missed some bunnies off offensive rebounds," he said. "I think that will come when I get my legs back."

Victor Oladipo's status for the remaining regular season games is uncertain, but he responded to the scrimmage with no issues. McMillan said Oladipo will play on Sunday.

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