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Oladipo Remaining Cautious While Preparing for Restart
Victor Oladipo has not decided whether he will play when the NBA resumes its schedule, but his name is on the travel list the Pacers have submitted to the NBA office to identify the 35 people who will travel to Orlando for the final eight regular season games and playoffs.
Pacers coach Nate McMillan confirmed Oladipo's status in a Zoom call with media members on Wednesday and said a decision will be made after the team begins practice there.
"I'm expecting Victor to go down and work out and play some five-on-five and go through the training camp with us," McMillan said. "Hopefully get in some games and get himself ready to play. But if he feels he's not ready, or we think he doesn't look right to play, then we will pull him. I'm sure he'll pull himself."
Oladipo played 13 games after rehabilitating the torn quadricep muscle he suffered in January of 2019. His best performance came in the final one with 27 points against Boston on March 10 before play was suspended because of the coronavirus. He said he feels stronger physically and mentally since then but needs more time before deciding whether to commit to playing.
"I feel better, but at the same time we've had an extensive period off," Oladipo said during a Zoom conference call with media members earlier on Wednesday. "To go back and ramp things up again, I'm susceptible to injury more so than anybody else, seeing how I was already injured beforehand.
"It's not about now, it's about longevity. I'm just trying to do what's best for my future. Because when I'm at my best this team is at their best. Hopefully, I can make a decision soon."
McMillan said the Pacers organization supports Oladipo's cautious approach. He pointed out Oladipo has been in the St. Vincent Center for voluntary but scheduled workouts at 7:30 a.m. each day for the past couple of weeks and set the tone for the rest of the team.
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"He wants to come in and work extremely hard every single day to prepare himself to be ready to play," McMillan said. "He's still coming back off of an injury. This time is going to be different than when he came back at the end of January. He had 30-40 games in which he was preparing himself to get into shape...it's something he needs to watch and we're certainly going to watch."
Oladipo said he has spent most of the time off during the season's postponement at his home in Orlando. He converted his garage into a weight room and gained access to a private gymnasium to work out. He hasn't competed in a pickup game but says he has returned stronger physically and mentally.
"The quarantine was a blessing in disguise for me," he said. "It's helped me grow as an individual, as a human being."
He added: "Nobody knows my body better than I do. I know what it feels like to be 100 percent. When I get to that point it will be easy to make that decision."
Oladipo said his concerns are related to his previously injured knee rather than fear of the virus.
"The fear of the unknown is a real thing," he said. "There's always concerns and questions. Just normal concerns. What is it going to be like?
"At the end of the day it's out of our control. At the end of the day we're experimenting. But I think the NBA and NBPA (National Basketball Players Association) has done a great job of making sure things run smoothly. All we can do is hope for the best and do what we’re told and go in there and try to make the best of it.
"Hopefully, it works out for the best for us."
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