Victor Oladipo

Pacers Notes: Free Agency, Sabonis, Oladipo

Struggling would-be contenders like the Celtics and Lakers could learn a lesson from the Pacers, who have bounced back impressively after losing star guard Victor Oladipo for the season, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com.

Within his examination of the Pacers’ ability to battle through adversity, Windhorst notes that the club’s leaders – head coach Nate McMillan, president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard, and GM Chad Buchanan – have an “open-door policy” when it comes to discussing players’ upcoming free agency — they aren’t afraid to sit down and talk to a player about his situation if he wants to, and have attempted to be transparent in those discussions.

As Windhorst observes, the Pacers’ rotation is stacked with players in contract years. Thaddeus Young, Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, and Tyreke Evans are among those who will be unrestricted free agents this summer. With long-term uncertainty facing so many of Indiana’s vets, the work McMillan has done to keep them all on the same page this season is impressive.

Here’s more from out of Indiana:

  • Chris Sikich of The Indianapolis Star provides the latest updates on a piece of legislation aimed in part at keeping the Pacers in Indiana for the next 25 years. As Sikich explains, the bill, which the Indiana Senate voted in favor of this week, would see the Pacers chip in about $63MM in new money for facility upgrades and would give the team until next April to negotiate a new long-term lease for the Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
  • Domantas Sabonis has been diagnosed with a left ankle sprain and may be forced out of action for the Pacers’ next few games, as J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star details. “He’s got a lot of swelling,” McMillan said. “He’s going to be out for a couple games. He’s not walking with crutches, but he can’t put a lot of pressure on it.” In Sabonis’ absence, frontcourt players like Kyle O’Quinn and T.J. Leaf could get the opportunity to play increased roles.
  • Speaking of injured Pacers, while Oladipo won’t be able to return this season, he’s making progress in his rehab work. As Ameer Tyree of Sporting News passes along, Oladipo’s trainer recently posted a video of the All-Star guard working on his handle while wearing a leg brace.

Central Notes: Ellington, Stauskas, Oladipo

The Pistons used up the remainder of their mid-level exception to sign guard Wayne Ellington, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Detroit made a $2.4MM commitment to acquire Ellington, who was waived by the Suns after getting traded by the Heat last week. The team remains $252K under the luxury tax threshold and it has no player bonuses that would push it over the tax, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

The Pistons divvied up portions of the mid-level to sign free agent Glenn Robinson III and second-round picks Khyri Thomas and Bruce Brown Jr. over the summer. Ellington got off to a slow start in his Pistons debut, shooting 1-for-8 from the field against Washington on Monday night.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • The signing of free agent guard Nik Stauskas technically pushed the Cavaliers over the luxury tax line but they’ll drop below it due to an unrelated acquisition, Marks notes in another tweet. Cleveland will get a $750K credit based on John Henson‘s bonuses being deemed unlikely at the end of the season. That will put the Cavs $722K below the tax line. Henson was acquired as part of the George Hill deal with the Bucks in early December but has yet to make his Cavs debut after undergoing wrist surgery in late November.
  • Stauskas is happy he would up back with the Cavaliers, believing he’ll get a chance to showcase his skills, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Stauskas was traded by Portland to Cleveland last week. He was included in two other deals, then waived before re-signing with the rebuilding club. “This team is not in a playoff position right now so they’re in the stage of developing guys and obviously it’s not like you look at the roster and have a bunch of All-Star talent,” Stauskas said. “I’m coming from Portland where I was playing behind guys like Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum — established guys. You look at the roster here and you don’t necessarily have that. I look at the opportunity coming in and help this team win some games and maybe help show what I can do as well.”
  • Victor Oladipo‘s season-ending quad injury occurred in the same area of his right knee that forced him to miss 11 games earlier this season, according to an ESPN report. However, the Pacers star guard is unsure if the earlier injury led to the more serious one. The soreness Oladipo felt in November and December was just above the right knee. “Sure, it might be connected, but who knows,” Oladipo said. “I’m not focused on the past because I have no control over that, just like I have no control over the future.”

Victor Oladipo Out For Season With Ruptured Quad Tendon

JANUARY 28th, 5:02pm: Oladipo underwent surgery on the ruptured quad tendon Monday, according to a team press release. There is no timetable for his return.

JANUARY 24th, 12:05pm: The Pacers have issued a formal update on injured guard Victor Oladipo, announcing today in a press release that an MRI revealed a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee. Oladipo will undergo surgery at a later date to repair the injury and will miss the rest of the 2018/19 season, according to the club.

It’s a brutal blow for a Pacers team that had established itself as one of the clear top five teams in the Eastern Conference this season, along with the Raptors, Bucks, Sixers, and Celtics. While the Pacers may not have been favored against any of those clubs in a playoff series, they had been holding onto the East’s No. 3 seed at 32-15, putting the club in position for a potential first-round series win.

Without Oladipo, the Pacers figure to remain in the top five in the East, but it’s hard to imagine the team hanging onto the No. 3 seed, and a first-round postseason exit seems much more likely today. Still, the Pacers held their own when Oladipo missed time with a bone bruise earlier in 2018/19, posting a 7-4 mark, so we’ll see how they look without their star player down the stretch this season.

As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski observes (via Twitter), a ruptured quad is a pretty rare injury among NBA players and one that’s challenging to come back from. Charles Barkley and Tony Parker suffered the same injury in the past, with Parker rupturing his quad less than two years ago. The Pacers and Oladipo will likely study Parker’s rehab and recovery process closely, Wojnarowski notes.

In Oladipo’s absence, the Pacers figure to lean more heavily on veteran guards Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, and Tyreke Evans. 2018 first-rounder Aaron Holiday also may reclaim a regular rotation role, as he did during Oladipo’s previous stint on the inactive list.

The Pacers are ineligible to apply for a disabled player exception to replace Oladipo for the rest of the season, since the deadline to request a DPE was January 15. The club will have an open roster spot once Stephan Hicks‘ 10-day contract expires if it wants to add any more veteran backcourt depth.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Central Notes: Oladipo, Sumner, Thompson, Bledsoe

Pacers star Victor Oladipo posted a message on social media thanking his fans, teammates and players around the league for supporting him after suffering a season-ending injury last week. Oladipo, 26, ruptured the quad tendon in his right knee and is scheduled for season-ending surgery.

“The amount of support, love and prayers that I have received over the past few days have been breathtaking and has truly inspired me to come back even better than before,” he wrote on Instagram. “Thank you to everyone including all my teammates, pacer fans and staff. Thank you to all the NBA fans around the world and all my brothers around the league who texted, called, tweeted and posted me I am truly thankful. It’s going to be tough but tough times don’t last, tough people do.”

Oladipo was in the midst of another solid season with Indiana before getting injured, holding per-game averages of 18.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists. His injury was a crushing blow to a Pacers team focused on making a deep postseason run in the spring.

“I will be back better than ever and if you question that well, thank you,” Oladipo wrote. “Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world. I am #UnBreakable.”

The Pacers currently hold the third best record in the East at 32-16, with the team still set on competing for the postseason behind the likes of Myles Turner, Tyreke Evans, Thaddeus Young and others.

There’s more from the Central Division today:

  • Pacers guard Edmond Sumner could receive more minutes going forward with the loss of Oladipo, J. Michael writes for the Indy Star. “There’ll be some nights that we may look to go to him off the bench,” said coach Nate McMillan. “There’s some nights where we can look at going with Ed off the bench instead of Aaron because it does give us more length.” Indiana traded for Sumner, 23, on draft night in 2017.
  • Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson will miss approximately two weeks of action with left foot soreness, the team announced. The soreness is believed to be from a foot sprain suffered on December 10, an injury that forced him to miss 10 straight games.
  • Eric Bledsoe is finally where he wants to be in his career with Milwaukee, Malika Andrews of ESPN writes. The Bucks traded for Bledsoe in November of 2017, giving him the chance to start and help lead a team in the Eastern Conference. “It’s slow,” Bledsoe said of Milwaukee. “There ain’t much to do. It feels just like home. I like it because I don’t want life to pass me by. In big cities, things go by too fast.”

Central Notes: Oladipo, Pacers, Dunn, Bucks

Pacers guard Victor Oladipo knew right away that the injury he suffered tonight was significant, tweets Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. There are concerns that Oladipo may need surgery on his right knee that will keep him out for the rest of the season, but the team will await the results of an MRI tomorrow before making a decision.

“I just slipped and knew it was serious,” he told reporters after tonight’s game. “We’ll see what tomorrow shows and go from there. My teammates stepped up earlier this season and everyone has the utmost confidence going forward.”

Oladipo is Indiana’s top scorer at 19.2 points per game and leads the team in steals with 1.7 per night. He made the All-Star Game for the first time last season and was in contention for another trip this year.

“It’s tough watching our best player go down,” teammate Darren Collison said in a video tweeted by the Pacers. “Not just because he’s our best player but because he’s one of the best people to be around.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers have two weeks until the trade deadline to figure out how they want to proceed without Oladipo, writes Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. Indiana is third in the East at 32-15 and making the playoffs shouldn’t be a concern, but Woo states that it’s hard to see the Pacers having any postseason success without Oladipo. He notes that they have roughly $59MM in expiring contracts in Collison, Tyreke Evans, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young, Cory Joseph and Kyle O’Quinn that could be moved for future assets if they decide to play for next season. Indiana will be in position to offer a max contract this summer, but Woo notes that the team’s bargaining power with free agents could be reduced if Oladipo’s rehab stretches into next season.
  • Bulls point guard Kris Dunn had extra motivation in his matchup with Hawks rookie Trae Young tonight, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Even though Chicago’s front office assured Dunn that he was the team’s point guard of the future, they brought in Young for a pre-draft workout and had legitimate interest in selecting him, Cowley writes. Dunn prevailed in the individual matchup, holding Young to a 1-for-12 shooting night, but Atlanta won the game.
  • Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers become a minority investor in the Bucks when he bought a 1% share of the team last year, but he tells Jim Owczarski of Packers News that he might be interested in expanding his role in the future. “When I’m done playing, there’s going to have to be something to fuel the competitive juices,” Rodgers said, “and being involved in sports would be great as long as it’s not commenting or maybe a GM. The ownership part seems a little more my speed and what I want to do when I retire from sports.”

“Serious” Knee Injury For Victor Oladipo

8:00pm: The Pacers are afraid that Oladipo’s injury will end his season, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Based on a preliminary examination, team doctors believe he will require surgery to repair the damage.

Indiana can’t seek a disabled player exception to replace Oladipo because the deadline to apply was January 15, adds ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

7:36pm: Victor Oladipo suffered a “serious” injury to his right knee during tonight’s game and will undergo an MRI tomorrow, according to a tweet from the Pacers. No further details will be given on his condition until after the procedure.

The All-Star guard left the court on a stretcher after hurting the knee in the first half of a game against the Raptors, an ESPN story relays. Indiana’s trainers placed a towel over his leg to hide the damage, while players from both teams surrounded him in concern.

Fans gave him a standing ovation as he was wheeled off the court, and he responded with a thumbs-up gesture even though he had tears in his eyes, according to ESPN.

The NBA’s reigning Most Improved Player, Oladipo is coming off his first All-Star appearance. He’s putting together another fine season, posting a 19.2/5.7/5.3 line through 35 games and leading the Pacers to third place in the East.

Several players tweeted out messages of support for Oladipo, including former Pacers star Paul George, who missed nearly a full season after breaking his leg in 2014.

Central Notes: Pistons, Dotson, Boylen, Pacers

Following up on conflicting reports about the Pistons‘ apparent interest in Damyean Dotson, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News confirms (via Twitter) that Detroit has expressed interest in trading for the Knicks‘ swingman. It’s not clear how enthusiastic New York would be about moving Dotson, but both the Pistons and Nets have been linked to him within the last couple weeks.

While the Pistons could use a little more stability on the wing, Bondy’s report, which noted that Luke Kennard hadn’t yet found a fit in Dwane Casey‘s system, came just hours before Kennard went off for a career-high 28 points on Monday night. If the 2017 lottery pick can get it going, Detroit’s need for reinforcements figures to be less urgent.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • In the wake of Monday’s report that Bulls players contacted the National Basketball Players Association of Jim Boylen‘s coaching tactics, a front office sources stressed to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that the team’s new head coach is “safe.” That source also had no complaints about what happened over the weekend: “Jim handled [Sunday] really well. It was a teachable moment for our young guys.”
  • Indiana has turned Victor Oladipo‘s absence into a positive, with several Pacers playing their best ball of the season while Oladipo has been sidelined, writes Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star. With Oladipo on the verge of returning, the Pacers will certainly be happy to welcome him back, but they’ll need to make some tweaks to their rotation to accommodate him, says Mark Montieth of Pacers.com.
  • Rodney Hood and Alec Burks were traded from the Jazz to the Cavaliers in separate deals, with Donovan Mitchell‘s emergence in Utah playing a major part in the change in their career paths. Joe Vardon of The Athletic spoke to both Hood and Burks about adjusting to Cleveland and what comes next for them.

Central Notes: Boylen, Smith, Bucks, Pacers

New Bulls coach Jim Boylen is trying to rebuild the struggling team on the fly, explaining his thoughts this past week on where the club stands. Boylen was promoted to head coach two weeks ago when the team suddenly fired Fred Hoiberg.

“My focus is that we’re not where we need to be to compete, and so obviously we want to win but I want us to be at a level where we get the full force of what we do,” Boylen said, according to Mark Strotman of NBC Sports. “I don’t think our conditioning allows us to do that.

“We’re on the first floor, We’re on ‘A.’ I’d like us to get to ‘D’ and ‘E.’ Maybe in two weeks we’ll see. We can’t get to ‘D’ and ‘E’ if we’re not in shape.”

These comments from Boylen came before his team lost 133-77 against the Celtics on Saturday, giving Boston its largest margin of victory in franchise history. Boylen ripped his team’s effort after the game, clearly trying to motivate his young squad and change their mindsets. The team held a lengthy meeting on Sunday to discuss their play.

Boylen, a veteran assistant with several NBA teams, has the opportunity to prove to management that he deserves to coach past this season. The Bulls are currently 6-21 and have lost eight of their last 10 games.

Here are some other notes from the Central Division:

  • Pistons guard Ish Smith is said to be drawing interest on the trade market, according to Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. Smith is expected to miss roughly three to six weeks with a right adductor muscle tear. Before getting injured, Smith was averaging 9.2 points and three assists per contest.
  • Steve Aschburner of NBA.com stresses the importance of retaining Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton in free agency for the Bucks, with both talents playing key roles on the team around Giannis Antetokounmpo this season. “It is our mission statement,” Bucks GM Jon Horst said, explaining the importance of building around Antetokounmpo. “What Giannis means to our team, our franchise, our city, our state kind of goes beyond words. We have to make the most of the opportunity to find and build things that fit with him.” Milwaukee is 16-8 on the season and holds the No. 2 spot out East, sporting an impressive 12-3 record at home.
  • The Pacers have found strength in numbers this season, using a collective approach to overcome the loss of All-Star Victor Oladipo, writes Mark Montieth of NBA.com. Oladipo has missed the team’s last 10 games to injury, but the Pacers are 6-4 this season without him. Last season, Indiana held a 0-7 record in games Oladipo missed.

Pacers Rule Victor Oladipo Out Indefinitely

4:18pm: Oladipo has no structural issues with the knee and is expected to return in the near future, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

3:56pm: The Pacers issued an update on Victor Oladipo‘s status today, announcing in a press release that the All-Star guard has been ruled out indefinitely. Oladipo is battling a sore right knee and had previously been considered day-to-day.

After enjoying a breakout season in his first year as a Pacer in 2017/18, Oladipo was off to another great start this season, averaging 22.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 4.9 APG in his first 15 games. However, he left Indiana’s game on November 17 vs. Atlanta with a knee issue and has missed the club’s last six contests.

While being ruled out “indefinitely” doesn’t necessarily mean that Oladipo’s absence will be a long-term one, it does mean that there’s no timetable for his return to the court at the moment. According to Scott Agness of The Athletic (via Twitter), Oladipo was encouraged after playing 4-on-4 during Thursday’s shootaround, but has also been frustrated by the injury and said he won’t return until he feels 100%.

As long as Oladipo remains on the shelf, rookie guard Aaron Holiday should continue playing a key rotation role. Holiday has averaged 19.4 minutes per game since Oladipo went down, after playing very sparingly in the early going.

The Pacers also have an open roster spot, should they feel the need to add any backcourt reinforcements while they await Oladipo’s return.

Central Rumors: Griffin, McDermott, Markkanen, Oladipo

When Blake Griffin was traded by the Clippers to the Pistons in late January, many people wondered how motivated and happy he would be leaving sunny L.A. for chilly Detroit. In fact, Griffin is glad he was dealt just months after signing a long-term max contract, as Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times details. Griffin is averaging 24.8 PPG, 9.9 RPG and 5.1 APG for the Pistons this season and has endeared himself to his teammates and people around the organization, Woike adds. “Yeah, I’m glad it happened,” Griffin told Woike. “I’m not saying I don’t miss certain people. There were some awesome fans that I got to know and I felt like I was very close with them. And there are some people you miss over there, but it was just time for a fresh start.”

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Pacers coach Nate McMillan vows to make better use of sharpshooter Doug McDermott, Mark Monteith of the team’s website reports. McDermott was signed to a three-year, $22MM contract as a stretch four over the summer. He is in the rotation but has averaged just 4.6 PPG this month while making 32.1% of his long-range attempts. He’s scored six points or less 13 times this season. “In the flow of the game you have to know who (the shooters) are,” McMillan said. “It’s like playing with a Reggie Miller. The bigs should look to get him open, it doesn’t have to be a set play. … Doug’s going to be OK. We’re going to get him better opportunities.”
  • Lauri Markkanen is close to returning from the right elbow injury that has sidelined him all season, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune and other media members. Markkanen has been medically cleared and will go through a full practice on Tuesday after participating in Monday’s non-contact morning shootaround. If he doesn’t have any setbacks, the second-year power forward will most likely return on December 4th.
  • The Pacers feel they are better equipped to handle situations when star Victor Oladipo can’t play, according to J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star. The team went winless in seven games without him last season. Oladipo missed his fourth consecutive game on Monday due to a right knee injury. He suffered the injury in the opening minutes against Atlanta on November 17th and the Pacers managed to win that game. They were 1-2 without him last week. “For us, it really doesn’t make a difference who’s out on the floor. We want to play the game the same way,” McMillan said. “Play the game with a lot of energy. Play the game together. We want that ball movement regardless of who is in the lineup.”