Pacers starting small forward T.J. Warren, who missed all but four games during the 2020/21 season due to a navicular left foot stress fracture, is recovering from the injury slower than Indiana had expected, per a team press release. The Pacers list Warren as being sidelined “indefinitely.”
The news undoubtedly comes as a blow for a revamped – and otherwise healthy – Pacers club that, with the return of former head coach Rick Carlisle to the bench following an underwhelming year with first-time head coach Nate Bjorkgren, hopes to compete for a return to the playoffs behind All-Star Domantas Sabonis and lead guard Malcolm Brogdon. Indiana is scheduled to begin its training camp in three weeks.
Warren was a major part of the Pacers’ core during a successful 2019/20 campaign that saw Indiana finish with the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. He was been the breakout star of the 2020 Orlando restart “bubble” campus, averaging 31.0 PPG and 6.3 RPG across six regular season games in Walt Disney World. The Pacers would go on to be swept by the Heat in the first round of the 2020 playoffs, but the future looked bright for the 6’8″ vet.
Warren averaged 15.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 1.3 APG during his four games with the Pacers during the 2020/21 season. He will earn $12.7MM in the last year of his current contract with the team. An unrestricted free agent in 2022, The 28-year-old could net a significant price on the open market should he be able to suit up for most of the 2021/22 season, but this setback throws his return timeline in doubt.
The forward took to social media to address the news himself. “Just wanted you to hear this straight from me,” he wrote in part (Twitter link). “I’m making sure I do this rehab process right so that I can get back on the court as soon as I can and be the best that I can.”