Pacers forward T.J. Warren will be out for the remainder of the season, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Warren will miss the entire 2021/22 season after playing just four games last season while recovering from consecutive stress fractures in his left foot.
Warren, 28, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and the plan is for him to prepare for the 2022/23 season. As James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star observes (via Twitter), it’s interesting that Woj reports that Warren has fully recovered and returned to full basketball activities, considering coach Rick Carlisle said there was “no update” on Warren last week.
However, at 23-47, Indiana currently holds the fifth-worst record in the league, so Warren returning for just 12 games to a team with virtually no chance of reaching the playoffs doesn’t make much sense, especially after already missing 70 games.
The Pacers confirmed Wojnarowski’s report in a press release.
“Our organization’s guiding principle will always center on a holistic approach to our players’ health and prioritizing their overall well-being,” said Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard. “T.J. Warren has worked incredibly hard over the past 14 months to get to this point – a full participant in on-court activity with his teammates – all while navigating the many challenges that accompany this type of injury.
“However, after thoughtful conversation with T.J. and his representatives, it has been determined that the most beneficial course of action at this point is to allow him to focus on the 2022-23 season. We will continue to provide T.J. with all the care, support, and resources necessary to ensure he returns to the high-level of play to which he’s accustomed.”
Warren had a standout season in 2019/20, averaging 19.8 points and 4.2 rebounds on .536/.403/.819 shooting in 67 games. The points, field goal and free throw percentages were all career-highs. He was one of the stars of the Orlando bubble during the pandemic-disrupted season. He’s played just four games since, having undergone surgery in December of 2020.
It’s hard to predict what the market for Warren might be like as a free agent this summer. It’s a weak free agent class and he’s one of the more proven scorers available, but he hasn’t played an NBA game for 15 months.