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Home Game Pacers' Oladipo mulling return for NBA restart

Pacers’ Oladipo mulling return for NBA restart

Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo still remains undecided on whether or not he will report to Orlando with the organization for the NBA’s restart.

Although he’s undecided, a league source told ESPN that Victor Oladipo will be included on the Indiana Pacers’ travel party list, but they’re still working with him on his plan and will support whatever decision is made.

Initially hesitant to commit right away while evaluating the risk of reinjury, Oladipo told reporters that his decision remains unclear on Wednesday morning’s Zoom availability, although the team is looking to finalize its travel party Wednesday.

“Nah, I haven’t made a decision just yet. Just taking it one day at a time,” Oladipo said. “I feel like when the day comes, I’ll know. I appreciate my teammates and this organization for backing me and supporting me with whatever decision I make but at the same time, I’m focused on me getting as strong as possible and getting where I’m at. Like I said, I’m taking it one day at a time and hopefully I can make a decision soon. We’ll see.”

The Pacers also resumed mandatory individual workouts at the St. Vincent Center in Indianapolis, but Oladipo says the team has informed him that he’s not being rushed to decide just yet.

“I don’t have a deadline,” Oladipo said.

Oladipo, 28, appeared in 13 games during the 2019-20 season before the coronavirus pandemic suspended all play. He was averaging 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists in a career-low 25.9 minutes per game as he tried to work himself back into shape following the extended time off.

The two-time NBA All-Star returned in January after missing more than a full calendar year of action because of a ruptured quadriceps tendon and lists health as his biggest concern before committing to play, more so than the pandemic.

“At the end of the day, it takes time for your body to heal. They’re sure I feel better, but at the same time we’ve had an extensive period of time off and to go back and ramp things up again, I’m susceptible to injury more so than anyone else seeing as how I was already injured beforehand and I wasn’t 100 percent when I came back to begin with,” Oladipo said. “A part of rehab is working your way back and getting yourself to 100 percent, so at the end of the day going back and turning things up as quickly as we’re about to do, and pretty much going to playoff formation and playoff games after eight games, I’m more susceptible to injury than anyone else is. So, it’s not about now, it’s about longevity.”

On Tuesday, Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard revealed that all but one player was fully committed to the restart as of Tuesday. Pritchard also said that there would be no judgment within the organization if the player, whom he wouldn’t name out of respect, decided not to play, because he understands that it’s a “very personal decision.”

Pacers center Myles Turner did confirm to ESPN that he will report to Florida with the squad after previously stating in June that mentally he still had “a little more work to do” to get his mind right for basketball in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody in May and the current status of black people in America.

In Oladipo’s case, though, the front office is impressed with his work ethic even as he mulls over his commitment.

“He’s been in here every morning; he’s the first one here,” Pritchard said of Oladipo. “We have timed workouts and physical therapy and the conditioning. And if you all know Victor, Victor is here first, and really doesn’t want to leave all day. I don’t think I’ve seen him in better shape than I’ve seen him today in a long time. I think he’s taking this time to staircase himself up physically, mentally. I’ve been really impressed from what I’ve seen out of him. Now, it’s just workouts, they can’t go 5-on-5; but in comparison, he’s in great shape.”

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