Pacers guard Victor Oladipo remains on track to make his return to the NBA on Wednesday night vs. Chicago after missing the last year with a torn quad tendon. However, the team will be cautious with the 27-year-old upon his return.
According to Nat Newell and J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star, Oladipo will face a minutes restriction in his season debut and for at least the first few weeks after that. The team intends to re-evaluate that restriction at the All-Star break, at which time it could be adjusted or lifted entirely.
The Pacers haven’t indicated exactly how many minutes Oladipo will receive per game. The team was also noncommittal about his potential role, though Scott Agness of The Athletic suggests (via Twitter) there’s a good chance he’ll come off the bench for now. As Agness points out (via Twitter), Oladipo still hasn’t practiced with the starters and head coach Nate McMillan is aware that an adjustment period will be necessary.
Before going down with his quad injury last January, the veteran guard had been named an All-Star in each of his first two seasons in Indiana. He has averaged 21.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.6 APG, and 2.1 SPG on .461/.362/.780 shooting in 111 games since joining the Pacers in a blockbuster 2017 trade.
The Pacers have played very well in Oladipo’s absence, with Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis stepping up as the team’s leaders and making strong cases for All-Star consideration. At 30-17, Indiana currently ranks fifth in the Eastern Conference. With Oladipo back, the club will be pushing in the second half to secure a top-four seed and first-round home court advantage.