Pacers Rumors

Pacers Notes: Turner, Oladipo, Stephenson, Roster

Myles Turner is relieved to be able to focus on basketball again after his family’s experience with COVID-19, writes Mark Montieth of NBA.com. Turner’s father had to be quarantined in a bedroom for 10 days after contracting the virus, which made the Pacers center reluctant to support restarting the season.

“I saw it firsthand and how it affected my family and I couldn’t imagine how it’s affected other families,” Turner said Friday in a media session on Zoom. “I definitely wasn’t a big proponent of playing at first. I still have questions now, but most of the questions have been answered.”

Turner changed his mind about the restart after hearing the NBA’s plan to protect the players on the Walt Disney World campus. He turned in some of his best performances of the season just before the hiatus and will be vital to Indiana’s chances of advancing in the playoffs. Turner averaged 15.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.7 blocks in the Pacers’ last three games and seems to have figured out how to be effective alongside fellow big man Domantas Sabonis.

“This is what I do for a living,” Turner said. “It gives me my escape at a time like this. I’m trying to win a championship as well. From that standpoint, I’m all in.”

There’s more from Indiana:

  • The Pacers don’t plan to make a roster move even though Victor Oladipo won’t be available in Orlando, tweets J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Oladipo will travel with the team to Disney World, so Indiana would have to waive someone else to create a roster opening. Michael adds that the Pacers are focused on “getting out of this in one piece,” rather than making a playoff run.
  • Former Pacer Lance Stephenson won’t be an option if the team decides to add a player, according to Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports (Twitter link). Agness reports that Stephenson was close to signing with the Pacers on the morning the hiatus began because of injuries to Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb. However, a source confirms Stephenson is ineligible to join the team in Orlando.
  • All 17 players who were on the roster when the hiatus began will travel to Disney World, Montieth writes in a separate story. That includes two-way players Brian Bowen and Naz Mitrou-Long. “Having all 17 players may be the most important thing, only because it gives them a chance to spend time together and create some bonds that could trickle over into next year,” said president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard.And we’re looking at programming things we can do together to stimulate that.”

Fallout From Oladipo's Opt-Out

Victor Oladipo To Opt Out Of NBA Restart

4:33pm: Oladipo plans to accompany the Pacers to Orlando, a league source tells Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports (Twitter link).

Because Oladipo is traveling with the team, Indiana won’t be allowed to replace him and he won’t forfeit any salary, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. In other words, Oladipo will essentially be treated as an injured player rather than one who is voluntarily opting out.


2:50pm: Pacers star Victor Oladipo has decided he won’t participate in the NBA’s restart in Orlando this summer, he tells Shams Charania of The Athletic.

“I really want to play, and as a competitor and teammate this is tearing me apart,” Oladipo told Charania. “I feel like I’m at a great place in my rehab and getting closer and closer to 100 percent. With all the variables, from how I have to build my 5-on-5 workload back up, to the increased risk of a soft tissue injury which could delay my rehab, and the unknown exact set up of the bubble I just can’t get my mind to being fully comfortable in playing.

“I have to be smart and this decision hasn’t been easy, but I truly believe continuing on the course I’m on and getting fully healthy for the 2020/21 season is the right decision for me.”

Oladipo, who suffered a torn quad tendon during the 2018/19 season, missed approximately a full calendar year, making his return for the Pacers on January 29. His play was somewhat inconsistent leading up to the suspension of the NBA season, and he missed five games during that stretch, but he had his best performance in Indiana’s final game before the hiatus, pouring in 27 points against Boston on March 10.

Oladipo’s trainer, Luke Miller, tells Charania that the two-time All-Star hasn’t had a setback and is “in the best shape he’s ever been in.” However, Oladipo and Miller were concerned about the possibility of the Pacers guard suffering an injury in Orlando, given the truncated ramp-up period to the eight seeding games and the playoffs.

“It’s not worrisome, the quad tendon itself — it’s the other soft tissues around it,” Miller told Charania. “Research shows that within about two years, coming back from a major injury and major surgery, these guys are more susceptible to an injury because of quad deficit. It’s a lot to ask Vic to come back in three weeks from five-on-five and play in playoff games.”

The Pacers – who are 39-26 and rank fifth in the Eastern Conference – are unlikely to make a deep playoff run this summer without Oladipo active. The team is also missing Jeremy Lamb (torn ACL), and Malcolm Brogdon recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Still, Indiana has the 28-year-old under contract for at least one more year, and there have been some indications that the two sides have interest in a longer-term deal. He’ll be eligible for a contract extension this fall, or could get a longer, more lucrative contract as a free agent in 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lou Williams Expected To Play In Restart; Beal Still Undecided

Seven players so far have opted out of the NBA’s restart this summer, but Clippers guard Lou Williams is unlikely to join that group. Despite previously expressing uncertainty about his status, Williams is expected to suit up for the Clippers as they pursue a title at Walt Disney World, head coach Doc Rivers said on Wednesday.

“As far as Lou, all indications (are) that yes, he is (playing),” Rivers said on a Zoom call, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. “Obviously, up until we get on the plane, anything can happen. But I do expect Lou to be with us. I would be very surprised if he’s not.”

Meanwhile, another high-scoring guard, Bradley Beal, remains uncertain about his status for Orlando, as Youngmisuk writes in a separate story. Beal’s teammate Davis Bertans has already pulled out due to injury concerns ahead of his upcoming free agency. Beal’s backcourt mate and fellow All-Star John Wall won’t be in attendance either, as he continues to focus on his Achilles rehab and a 2020/21 return.

According to Youngmisuk, Beal is considering health factors too as he weighs his options.

“I have yet to make (my decision),” Beal told reporters on Wednesday. “I am still working my tail off every single day as if I am playing. It is more or less a decision that will come down to the medical staff and coming back from zero to 100, and then I have some nagging stuff from the end of the year that we are trying to clean up, too. We are looking at it from all angles. I am definitely working out every single day here. It is good to be back in the facility. … I am not swayed one way or another.”

Here’s more on certain players’ participation decisions:

Victor Oladipo Remains Undecided About Playing

Pacers guard Victor Oladipo remains undecided whether he’ll play in Orlando, but he’ll be included on the team’s travel party list, according to ESPN’s Eric Woodyard.

Oladipo, who spoke with the media via Zoom on Wednesday morning, has some concerns about suffering an injury setback. Oladipo endured a long-term rehab for his surgically repaired quad tendon and returned to action in late January.

He appeared in 13 games before play was halted, averaging 13.8 PPG in 25.9 MPG. He scored a season-high 27 points in 29 minutes against Boston in Indiana’s last game on March 10.

“At the end of the day, it takes time for your body to heal,” he said. “They’re sure I feel better, but at the same time we’ve had an extensive period of time off and to go back and ramp things up again, I’m susceptible to injury more so than anyone else, seeing as how I was already injured beforehand and I wasn’t 100 percent when I came back to begin with.”

Oladipo went on to elaborate about his injury risk. He’ll be playing on an expiring contract next season, when he makes $21MM. Indiana enters the Orlando bubble with the Eastern Conference’s fifth-best record at 39-26.

“A part of rehab is working your way back and getting yourself to 100 percent, so at the end of the day going back and turning things up as quickly as we’re about to do, and pretty much going to playoff formation and playoff games after eight (seeding) games, I’m more susceptible to injury than anyone else is,” he said. “So, it’s not about now, it’s about longevity.”

The Pacers have resumed mandatory individual workouts at the St. Vincent Center in Indianapolis, Woodyard notes, but are giving Oladipo space and time to make up his mind.

“I don’t have a deadline,” he said.

Central Notes: Pacers, George, Giannis, Bulls

In an appearance this week on the Knuckleheads podcast with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles, former Pacers star Paul George revisited his 2017 departure from Indiana, explaining why he felt the need to move on from the organization. According to George, “the best power forward” in the NBA had said at the time that he wanted to team up with PG13 in Indiana, but the Pacers weren’t willing to do what was necessary to make it happen.

“They’re like, ‘We’re a mid-major, we’re a small market, like, we can’t do it, we’re a small market, we can’t afford that,'” George said (per 8points9seconds.com). “I’m like, ‘The best power forward wants to come play here, like, y’all can’t make that work?’ They didn’t want to do it.”

According to J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter links), the star power forward George is referring to is Anthony Davis. Michael also suggests that George may be overstating the Pacers’ ability to have landed AD, noting that Indiana lacked the pieces to make it happen and had no deal in place with New Orleans. It’s worth pointing out as well that the Pelicans didn’t become truly motivated to move Davis until he after he requested a trade in 2019.

Here’s more from around the Central Division:

  • Following Malcolm Brogdon‘s positive coronavirus test, coaches who have come in contact with the Pacers guard are being quarantined, a source tells J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Michael adds in the same story that Indiana probably won’t make any roster moves in the next week as long as none of the team’s players opt out of the summer restart.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo was dealing with a minor knee injury when the NBA went on hiatus in March, but he’ll be ready to go when the season resumes next month, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer tells Jackie MacMullan of ESPN. “It’s a huge advantage for us that Giannis will be completely and totally healthy,” Budenholzer said. “He’s in a great place, both mentally and physically.”
  • In his latest mailbag, K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune says that new Bulls executives Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley are more likely to make modest tweaks to the roster for 2020/21 than to do anything drastic this offsesaon that breaks up the young core. The team’s two new decision-makers hope to put those young players in better position to succeed going forward, Johnson adds.

Malcolm Brogdon Tests Positive For Coronavirus

12:27pm: Brogdon has confirmed his positive COVID-19 test in a statement on the Pacers’ website:

“I recently tested positive for the COVID virus and am currently in quarantine. I’m doing well, feeling well and progressing well. I plan to join my teammates in Orlando for the resumption of the NBA season and playoffs.”

12:03pm: Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon has tested positive for the coronavirus, reports J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (via Twitter).

Teams began mandatory testing for COVID-19 on Tuesday as they prepare for the NBA restart in Orlando next month. Brogdon is the second notable player known to have tested positive this week — word broke yesterday that Nikola Jokic has also contracted the virus.

The league is bracing for a number of positive coronavirus tests this week, but those cases aren’t expected to derail the plan to resume the season. The goal is to identify players with COVID-19 now and ensure they don’t bring it with them into the Orlando bubble next month.

Brogdon and other players who test positive will quarantine until they’re symptom-free and considered fully recovered. At that point, they’ll be permitted to travel to Orlando for group workouts and training camps.

It’s not clear whether or not Brogdon is suffering from any coronavirus symptoms, but hopefully he makes a speedy recovery either way.

Kris Dunn Meets Starter Criteria, Increases Value Of QO

Bulls guard Kris Dunn has been deemed to have met the starter criteria as a result of the shortened season, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). As a result, Dunn will receive a qualifying offer of $7,091,457 instead of $4,642,800 this offseason if Chicago wants to make him a restricted free agent.

We broke down Dunn’s situation in greater depth earlier this month, but the abridged version is this: A player eligible for restricted free agency receives a more lucrative qualifying offer if he starts 41 games or plays 2,000 minutes in the season before he reaches free agency, or if he averages 41 starts or 2,000 minutes in the two seasons before his free agency.

Dunn, who started 32 games this season and 76 in total over the last two years, fell slightly short of the 41-game-per-season requirement, but the criteria became prorated due to the Bulls only playing 65 of their 82 games this season. As a result, the former No. 5 overall pick was considered to have met the starter criteria, increasing the value of his qualifying offer.

As we’ve previously pointed out, the $2.5MM difference could have a real impact on Dunn’s free agency. It’s possible the Bulls will be less inclined to tender a qualifying offer now that it’s worth $7.1MM instead of $4.6MM. If they do move ahead with the QO, it’s possible Dunn will be more inclined to accept it.

If Chicago doesn’t tender a qualifying offer to Dunn, he’d become an unrestricted free agent.

As Marks and ESPN have previously reported, the NBA and NBPA also agreed to prorate the criteria for bonuses and incentives available to players in 2019/20, based on the shortened season. As a result, the following players have now achieved bonuses, according to Marks (Twitter link):

  • Rudy Gobert (Jazz): $250K for a rate of one rebound per 2.52 minutes in 62 games played.
    • Original criteria: A rate of one rebound per <3.2 minutes in 67 games.
  • Solomon Hill (Heat): $532K for 992 minutes played.
    • Original criteria: 1,000 minutes.
  • Jrue Holiday (Pelicans): $255K for 1,922 minutes played; $255K for 55 games played; $255K for 4.9 RPG in 55 games.
    • Original criteria: 2,075 minutes played; 66 games played; 3.15 RPG in 67 games.
  • Tyus Jones (Grizzlies): $858K for 32 wins.
    • Original criteria: 33 wins.
  • Kyle Lowry (Raptors): $200K for All-Star berth and 52 games played.
    • Original criteria: All-Star berth and 65 games played.
  • Patty Mills (Spurs): $250K for 149 three-pointers made.
    • Original criteria: 185 3PM.
  • T.J. Warren (Pacers): $250K for 184 three-pointers made and .375 3PT%.
    • Original criteria: 185 3PM; .370 3PT%.

Victor Oladipo Unsure If He’s Ready For Orlando

Pacers guard Victor Oladipo will test his surgically repaired quad tendon before making a final decision on playing in Orlando, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Oladipo plans to start intense workouts next week to see how his body responds before making a commitment. He made his season debut January 29 and played in just 13 games before the hiatus, averaging 13.8 PPG in about 26 minutes per night. The former All-Star missed roughly a year of action after suffering the injury in January of 2019.

“I feel a whole lot better,” Oladipo said. “I know there’s risk going into it with the unique situation that I’m in — being off so long and trying to ramp it up that fast. I’ve just got to be smart, that’s all.”

The Pacers worked with Oladipo throughout his rehab process and were careful not to bring him back too soon, Wojnarowski adds. They will continue to watch him closely until a final decision is made.

Players face a Wednesday deadline to inform the league if they plan to report to Orlando, and teams must submit their active rosters by July 1. It’s not clear if Indiana would be able to replace Oladipo if he opts not to play, since substitute players aren’t eligible to replace players with injuries.

Justin Holiday Unsure About Going To NBA Campus

When the NBA released its six-phase plan to restart the season in Orlando, one major detail confirmed by the league was that players do not have to attend. Players would not receive their game checks in the event that they take this route, but there would be no penalty – such as a fine or suspension – beyond that.

J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star hears that Justin Holiday is the only member of the Pacers deliberating whether or not to go. Sources tell Michael that Holiday is 50/50 on joining the club in Orlando.

Holiday was one of the players on the recent Kyrie Irving-led conference call, during which the Nets point guard questioned the league for returning the play in the midst of social justice reform.

Players have until June 24 to notify their team that they will not be participating in the remainder of the season in Orlando.