NBA Coronavirus Outbreak: Pacers Will Travel To Orlando Without Main Star

NBA Coronavirus Outbreak: Pacers Will Travel To Orlando Without Main Star

Oladipo opts to sit out season restart

Victor Oladipo has now decided to sit out the season restart at Orlando in an effort to avoid re-aggravating the quadriceps tendon he injured last year. The Indiana Pacers star has been mulling this important decision for weeks now, and has come to a conclusion that he cannot take the risk of re-injury.

The two-time All-Star told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski of this decision that could make or break the Pacers’ hopes for going deeper in the playoffs. Kevin Pritchard, Indiana’s president of basketball operations, released a statement that emphasized the team’s whole-hearted for Oladipo and his decision to not participate in the Orlando bubble.

"We totally respect and understand Victor's decision to not play in the restart of the NBA season. The first priority for our players is, and always will be, their health, whether that be physical or mental health. Victor has looked great in workouts. but the timing of the restart and lack of 5-on-5 activity makes it difficult to for him to commit to playing at the high level he expects with regards to further injury. His future health is the No. 1 priority and we look forward to having him back at full strength for the 2020-21 season.
This is not a unique situation for out team, playing without key players like Victor and Jeremy Lamb. This team has shown great resolve in responding to adversity and we fully expect this will be no different. We remain excited about what they can accomplish in Orlando."

Oladipo, 28, appeared in only 13 games for the Pacers this season. He took a year-long layoff to fully recover from the major injury he sustained last year. Upon coming back, it was obvious that the athletic, two-way guard was still finding his groove on both ends of the court. He normed a decent stat line of 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists, but only shot an overall 39% clip from the field, including a lowly 30% from the three-point line.

Despite the dip in his production, it is understandable that Oladipo came out slow after the year-long recovery. A very long time of not playing competitive basketball will definitely take away some of an athlete’s athleticism, including his overall feel of the game.

Having said that, we also cannot blame Oladipo for backing out of the season resumption. As a result of the community quarantine implemented due to the coronavirus outbreak, NBA teams shut down their practice facilities. This left players with no place to do intensive workouts and scrimmages.

Rushing the conditioning of an athlete can eventually lead to injuries, especially if one considers that the 22 NBA teams invited in the season restart will play games every other day. Oladipo had this in mind as he was making his decision, and reiterated that it is his long-term health that should be at the top of his priority.

"At the end of the day, it takes time for your body to heal... 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% when I came back to begin with.
A part of rehab is working your way back and getting yourself to 100%, 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 games, I'm more susceptible to injury than anyone /else is. So it's not about now. It's about longevity."

Having said that, Oladipo’s absence will further dampen a hole on the Pacers’ backcourt. They already lost Jeremy Lamb to a major injury this year, although they have done quite the excellent job in holding down the fort. Domantas Sabonis showed out his versatility this season, notching his first career All-Star appearance.

Another key cog in the team’s success this year is the arrival of all-around point guard Malcolm Brogdon. The Pacers landed the versatile playmaker last summer, a very wise decision that cushioned the blow of losing Oladipo. The former Rookie of the Year award winner is norming career-highs of 16.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 7.1 assists for the Pacers.

However, it was reported last week that Brogdon tested positive for COVID-19. Brogdon is in quarantine following the positive result, but it is a sure thing that he could travel with the team to Orlando should he decide to participate. As per Eric Woodyard of ESPN, Pritchard revealed that there is still a player in the team who is yet to make a decision if he will join the Pacers in Orlando. It is not known if that is Oladipo or Brogdon, but Pritchard reiterated that the organization is giving that player the full freedom to choose.

"We're giving him all the information, we're updating him and then it's gotta be his decision because once you make the decision, you have to jump in both feet. You can't be straddling. You either have to be in or you have to be out. Again, no judgments on either way.
We have to know tomorrow about every player. I think we have one that is still on the fence. The one thing with him is we've given him a lot of space. This is a very personal decision and there won't be no judging or any way that he goes, we want to support. Obviously we want him to play, but it's a very individual decision and I don't want to be the kind of leader who says, 'you have to do it."

Losing one backcourt star is one thing, but losing both Oladipo and Brogdon should be the end of Indiana’s playoff hopes this season. They are still sitting on the 5thspot in the Eastern Conference, sporting a record of 39 wins against 26 defeats.

Clippers young shooter tests positive for coronavirus

Los Angeles Clippers sophomore shooting guard Landry Shamet has tested positive for COVID-19. Shams Charania of The Athletic was the first to report about this unfortunate development, although it is understood that Shamet is in good condition. The Clippers organization also announced that they have closed the team’s practice facility to prevent further widespread of the virus.

This is a bit of a setback for the 23-year old gunner as he has to go through a two-week self-quarantine as part of the protocol that the NBA has set forth. But Shamet has made it known that he has used the league’s lull time to further work on his game. During a conference call with the media last week, Shamet said that he is spending significant amount of time studying tapes of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry. The Golden State Warriors backcourt stars have been the league’s top shooter for some time now. (h/t Garrett Chorpenning of Sports Illustrated)

"I've been watching a lot of like Klay and Steph and those guys a few years ago when they were really like — really rolling, figuring out what they would do against the types of defenses that I'm starting to see in order how to be effective, how to get involved, not only to score but how to trigger actions for other guys. So I've been really  diving into that, really thinking a lot, watching myself, watching other people, just   trying to figure out what I can do to kind of take my game to the next level with this      little break we've been on."

Shamet, who was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with their 26th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, was shipped to the Clippers as an integral piece of the Tobias Harris trade. He has started in 27 games this season, and is norming averages of 9.7 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and an excellent 39% clip from three-point territory.

There’s no indication that Shamet will sit out the season restart, but the Clippers can’t afford to lose him right now. There are reports saying that scoring combo guard Lou Williams is still deciding whether to participate in Orlando or not.

A sports aficionado ever since he first held a basketball, Paul was a student athlete in school and college. Today, he teaches English in university by day and a freelance sportswriter by night.

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