Health Concerns Force Oladipo to Skip Balance of NBA Season

Tom Brew

Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo told The Athletic on Friday that he's skipping  the remainder of the revived 2020 NBA season because  he can’t get his mind “to being fully comfortable” in playing.

“I really want to play, and as a competitor and teammate, this is tearing me apart,” said Oladipo, a former star at Indiana from 2010-13. “I feel like I’m at a great place in my rehab and getting closer and closer to 100 percent. 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.”

The Pacers are totally onboard with his decision, saying the safety of their players come first. 

"We totally respect and understand Victor's decision to not play in the restart of the NBA's season,'' Pacers' President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard said. "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.''

Oladipo, who has one year left on his four-year, $84 million deal with the Pacers, will miss out on the final eight regular-season games of the season in Orlando, where 22 teams are going to be sequestered at Disney World. Because of limited practice time and the awkward schedule, Oladipo thought it was best to not take any risk.

His physical therapist told The Athletic that Oladipo hasn't been able to play 5-on-5 at all during the pandemic

“This kind of injury takes a while to get back from,” Oladipo’s physical therapist said. “This is a very rare injury. He’s playing this smart and we look at it as: He came back, he got into rotation, he got a feel for the game and his knee really responded well — and we had to shut this whole thing down from the pandemic. We haven’t been able to play five-on-five yet due to circumstances. Now we’re asking guys to ramp up in 21 days. That’s just a real short time window for a person with his kind of injury.”

The cynics out there say that this has more to do with his impending contract negotiations this year, since there's just one year left on the deal he signed in 2017. He's a likely max-contract player, so we're talking about several hundred million dollars here.

That certainly has to be a consideration for Oladipo.