Oladipo said he “can’t get my mind to be fully comfortable in playing.” He returned in January after recovering from a torn quad tendon suffered nearly a year prior, an injury that requires about two years to fully return from. And the unique aspects of a shortened season conclusion and playoffs after a pandemic-forced hiatus could put his rehabilitation backward. He appeared in 13 games before the league went on hiatus in March.
Oladipo decides not to play at Disney
“I really want 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 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 NBA season begins July 30 at Disney World near Orlando. It will be a shortened conclusion to the regular season for 22 teams with the playoffs to follow. The Pacers (39-26) are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference along with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Oladipo focused on 2020-21
The torn quad tendon is a major injury that required significant surgery and Oladipo reportedly weighed whether it was worth it to set that rehabilitation back to play in such conditions. Players have been away from the game for four months and mostly quarantining in their homes. The ramp up to games is 21 days of practice after a long, mostly sedentary layoff.
Oladipo, 28, has been training with his physical therapist, Luke Miller, during that time. Miller told The Athletic that the point guard hasn’t had any setbacks and is “extremely close to the old VO,” but is playing smart so that things don’t backpedal.
“It’s not worrisome, the quad tendon itself — it’s the other soft tissues around it,” Miller said. “Research shows that within about two years, coming back from a major injury and major surgery, these guys are more susceptible to an injury because of quad deficit. It’s a lot to ask Vic to come back in three weeks from five-on-five and play in playoff games.
“Soft tissue has to adapt. The only way it can adapt is by loading. This is a concern for every medical staff, every player here entering the return. We’re not worried about the tendon; it’s something else that could happen which an eight-week window after the season is very short.
“This is about mental health too. The comfort level of going into the bubble — having a three-hour window for practice … I can’t go into his room to treat him — there’s a lot of questions we have about that.”
Oladipo is a former No. 2 pick and two-time All-Star. He’s a key piece for the Pacers, and that goes beyond a unique few months in the middle of a pandemic. They will want him fully healthy next season.
In three seasons for Indiana, he’s averaged 20.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.
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