Less than two weeks ago, Pacers All-Star guard Victor Oladipo said he would sit out the NBA’s restart to rehab his surgically repaired right knee.
On Wednesday, he said he may be changing his mind after practicing with his teammates in Florida.
”It was hard for me to assess where I was,” Oladipo said on a conference call. ”But being able to come down here and practice with my guys at a high level, I think there’s a strong possibility that I might play. I want to be smart because I want to play the next 10 years.”
Oladipo is working his way back from a ruptured quadriceps tendon suffered in January 2019, which sidelined him for 12 months.
He returned last January and appeared in just 13 games, averaging 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting a career-worst 39.1 percent before the season was halted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Citing his injury history, Oladipo announced July 3 that he was opting out of the remainder of the season.
Last week, however, he informed the Pacers he would join the team in the bubble at Walt Disney World outside Orlando and practice with the team, but not play.
That plan appears to be changing.
”I was always going to come down here and test it out,” he said. ”When I made my decision, I wasn’t able to play five-on-five, wasn’t able to get up and down the floor and wasn’t able to do things at a high level, so I didn’t think I would be able to play.
“But after coming down here and working with the guys, rebounding, running and jumping, I’m trending in a positive direction. So hopefully when it’s time to play, I can play.”
The first of Indiana’s eight seeding games before the playoffs is Aug. 1 against the 76ers.
The Pacers are fifth in the Eastern Conference at 39-26, and if Oladipo decides to play when the season resumes, then he would be the second starter to return to the team. Malcolm Brogdon deemed himself healthy following a hip injury he suffered March 4, as well as being cleared of the coronavirus.
“I know what I’m capable of,” Oladipo said. “I know what standard I have to get to. I know how my body needs to feel in order to perform at the level that I’m capable of performing.”
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