Oladipo returned in January after recovering from a torn quad tendon for nearly a year, though appeared in just 13 games before the league shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While he said he wants to play, and said he’s feeling good, the 28-year-old doesn’t want to risk reinjuring his leg by coming back too fast — especially after the more than three month hiatus.
“I feel a whole lot better,” Oladipo told ESPN on Saturday. “I know there’s risk going into it with the unique situation that I’m in — being off so long and trying to ramp it up that fast. I’ve just got to be smart, that’s all.”
The Pacers compiled a 39-26 record when the season shut down, and will be one of the 22 teams competing at Disney World next month when the NBA resumes play. Players must inform their respective teams by Wednesday if they intend to participate in Florida — something many players have considered skipping due the massive Black Lives Matter movement, risks related to the coronavirus and more. Should they decide to opt out, they won’t be punished.
Players have to submit an official roster of eligible players to the league by July 1. If the Pacers don’t decide whether Oladipo is fit enough to play by that point, they can keep him on their active roster up until the season officially resumes on July 30. Should they determine he can’t play, the team will be allowed to replace him from an eligible pool of players.
Oladipo’s return could significantly bolster the Pacers’ attempt at a deep postseason run in Florida. While he’s averaged just 13.8 points and 3.2 rebounds in 13 games this season, he did drop 27 points in his final game out in March against the Boston Celtics.
However risking his return if he’s not ready — especially in a modified, unusual setting in the midst of a pandemic — could prove to be a dire mistake down the road should the two-time All-Star and former No. 2 overall pick get injured once again.
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