Pacers’ Victor Oladipo opts to sit out of NBA’s Orlando return

Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo reacts after hitting a late shot. (R Brent Smith/AP)

The Indiana Pacers say they support Victor Oladipo‘s decision to opt out of the NBA’s restart in Orlando due to concerns over his rehab and the potential risk of re-injury.

Earlier Friday, the Pacers star told The Athletic‘s Shams Charania that he “really” wants to play and “as a competitor and teammate this is tearing me apart.”

“I feel like I’m at a great place in my rehab and getting closer and closer to 100 per cent. With all the variables, from how I have to build my 5-on-5 workload back up, to the increased risk of a soft tissue injury which could delay my rehab, and the unknown exact set up of the bubble, I just can’t get my mind to being fully comfortable in playing.

“I have to be smart and this decision hasn’t been easy, but I truly believe continuing on the course I’m on and getting fully healthy for the 2020-21 season is the right decision for me.”

In January 2019, Oladipo suffered a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee and spent an entire year rehabbing before making his comeback this season on Jan. 29 against the Chicago Bulls.

The two-time all-star appeared in 13 games before the novel coronavrius pandemic forced a halt to the NBA season. He was averaging 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and three assists during that stretch.

Pacers president of basketball operations, Kevin Pritchard, said he backs Oladipo’s decision to err on the side of caution.

“We totally respect and understand Victor’s decision to not play in the restart of the NBA’s season. The first priority for our players is, and always will be, their health, whether that be physical or mental health. Victor has looked great in workouts, but the timing of the restart and lack of 5-on-5 activity makes it difficult to for him to commit to playing at the high level he expects with regards to further injury. His future health is the No. 1 priority and we look forward to having him back at full strength for the 2020-21 season,” Pritchard said in a statement.

“This is not a unique situation for our team, playing without key players like Victor and Jeremy Lamb. This team has shown great resolve in responding to adversity and we fully expect this will be no different. We remain excited about what they can accomplish in Orlando “

Oladipo has played seven NBA seasons, earning a spot on the All-NBA third team, All-Defensive first team and Most Improved Player of the Year award in 2019.

The Pacers finished with a 39-26 record before the NBA’s hiatus, good enough for fifth in the Eastern Conference.

Currently the NBA’s plan is to resume its season, which was suspended in mid-March due to COVID-19, on July 30 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.