There is the constant temptation to assume the best and pencil him in as a dynamic potential contributor to Erik Spoelstra’s rotation.
But there also is the tease of something that never quite happens on what often have been overly optimistic timetables.
Such is an injury history that continues to have Oladipo as one of the Heat’s great unknowns.
This past week, as he again traveled with the Heat but did not play, Oladipo not only participated in the team’s practices but put in plenty of public-view court time with vigorous pregame workouts.
Spoelstra already has ruled the 30-year-old veteran out of Monday night’s road game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum.
“Hopefully soon,” Oladipo said, as the Heat worked toward Monday’s conclusion of their four-game trip that so far has produced a 2-1 record. “I feel good, been moving a lot more. Just going to make sure it’s the right thing, the right decision collectively. I’m not going to make a decision by myself. Just going to make sure everything feels good and I can perform at the highest level.”
When it comes to temptation/tease from a Heat perspective, there first was the acquisition at the 2021 NBA trading deadline from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley. Oladipo, working back at the time from knee surgery, appeared in four games that season for the Heat, none in the playoffs.
After May 2021 surgery to repair his right quadriceps tendon, Oladipo re-signed with the Heat for the veteran-minimum salary, appearing in just eight games for the Heat last season, before showing a degree of revival with 15 playoff appearances.
Then, after being re-signed to a two-year, $18 million free-agency contract in July and playing during the preseason in October, including the preseason finale, Oladipo again was sidelined, this time with discomfort in his non-surgical left knee.
So, again, a waiting game, one in which the team had significantly tempered expectations until recently.
Asked if this could be the week, or next week, for his 2022-23 debut, there again was an attempt at perspective from the two-time former All-Star.
“I don’t know,” he said. “We’ll see. It’s more of a day-to-day thing, how I feel and what we feel makes the best sense. I trust our training staff and the people I work with, as well, coming up with a solid plan and make sure I’m ready to go.”
As he said when he began this latest rehabilitation round, this latest ailment is a compensation injury.
“I think it was me going hard like I do,” he said. “Things like this happen when you ramp things up and go hard. It’s just part of the game. Luckily for me, it was nothing major. I’m blessed. I’ve been able to still get better, still improve. We’ve been coming up with a great plan for my return to play. Look forward to getting out there and playing.”
Oladipo said he has been assured this latest condition will not prove chronic, as was the case with his right knee.
“No, no, no, I can move past it,” he said.
“I feel great. I feel good. I feel a lot better. Looking forward to getting out there and helping the team.”
A competitive return would benefit both the Heat and Oladipo.
For the Heat, it would offer the type of veteran, two-way scoring guard currently lacking on the second unit. For Oladipo, it could lead to a salary payoff, with the second year on the free-agency contract signed last summer a player option.
“I embrace setbacks,” he said, “because at the end of the day, it makes you who you are. It makes you stronger. The year was tough obviously to deal with. But it’s nothing major.
“You have to look at the big picture sometimes, most of the time. I know my big blessing is around the corner. You have to stay optimistic and keep moving forward.”