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Pacers ‘hopeful’ Victor Oladipo can return in December or January

Victor Oladipo

Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo shoots a 3-point goal during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)


Last season, while everyone was focused on the stars in Philadelphia, the coming of age of Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee, Kawhi Leonard in Toronto, and the self-destruction of Boston, The Indiana Pacers were right in the mix. They looked to be a dangerous team — maybe one that was a player away, but close — that could make the “big four” in the East a big five.

Then Victor Oladipo ruptured his right quadriceps tendon. That was the end of the Pacers as a serious playoff threat.

However, next season, with Oladipo back, a guy who can set the table at point guard (Ricky Rubio is reported to be a top target), and maybe a little more scoring the Pacers will be back to being a legit threat. Of course, it may be midseason at best before Olaidpo is back according to Kevin Pritchard, Pacers president, speaking to the Indy Star.

“He might be out a little bit,” Pritchard said of Oladipo. “I’m hopeful he’ll be back December or January.”

That is a longer timeline than was initially expected (before Thanksgiving was the guesstimate), but this also is an injury that is not common in basketball and recovery times tend to vary. This ultimately comes down to the doctors and how Oladipo feels.

Two other thoughts on Pritchard’s timeline. First, in the wake of how the Kevin Durant injury went down, you can be sure players, agents, and teams are going to make sure a star such as Oladipo is close to 100 percent and not likely to re-injure themselves before they step on the court. Second, even if Oladipo were on a Thanksgiving timeline, if I were Pritchard I would give a timeline such as “December or January” so there is a cushion, and if he comes back earlier he looks like a hero.

How Oladipo comes back, and if he can regain his All-NBA level of play, is the biggest question for the Pacers as they try to move back into the top of the East.