Victor Oladipo underwent an MRI Thursday that revealed he has a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee, sustained with 4:05 to play in the second quarter of Wednesday night’s game against Toronto. He will undergo surgery at a date to be determined and will be out for the season.
This is devastating. The Pacers lose their top player in a season they appeared capable of beating anyone in the Eastern Conference. And Oladipo must recover from a major setback that threatens his explosiveness long-term.
Third-place Indiana still has a seven-game buffer over sixth place in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers should still make the playoffs and get at least a first-round matchup with whatever of the Raptors, Bucks, Celtics and 76ers finishes with the worst record.
Indiana has played slightly better without Oladipo this season, but that’s with Oladipo being their go-to player in the highest-leverage situations. Make no mistake: The Pacers are far worse without Oladipo.
Now, Indiana must assess its roster before the trade deadline. Look for reinforcement to remain as competitive as possible without Oladipo? Stand pat and let Tyreke Evans, Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison and Cory Joseph assume larger roles? Accept reduced expectations and sell (especially players on expiring contracts like Thaddeus Young, Bogdanovic, Collison, Joseph and Evans)? There are no easy answers.
It won’t be easy for Oladipo, either. But he’s a hard worker and great competitor. Everyone will be rooting for him on his long road back.