INDIANAPOLIS — All-Star guard Victor Oladipo doesn’t know yet when he’ll be ready to return to the court for the Indiana Pacers.
But Oladipo said when he does, he expects to be the best version of himself.
“When I say I’m coming back better than ever, I’m not just saying that because it sounds good,” Oladipo said. “I truly believe that.”
Oladipo spoke at Pacers Media Day for the first time since suffering a torn knee tendon Jan. 23 that sidelined him for the rest of the 2018-19 season. The former Indiana University standout has rehabbing with personal trainers in Miami, posting occasional videos to show his progress. He’s also focusing on getting his mind right for the upcoming season, whether it begins for him in December, January or later.
“I’m a positive butterfly,” Oladipo said. “I thrive off positivity, and I kind of preach it. …
“I am human, and it hasn’t been easy. There have been tough days. There have been days that have been tougher than other days, but for the most part I’ve survived every single one of them.”
Oladipo did not offer a specific timeline as to when he expects to be back, and neither did Pacers coach Nate McMillian.
“He will not do anything live I know for awhile,” McMillan said. “[Whether he] will be able to go through the first part of practice is something that they will let me know [later Friday] before we go. He may be able to warm up with the team, do some shooting and some drills.”
But one of Olapido’s teammates, Pacers center Myles Turner, expects Oladipo to come back sooner than some people expect.
“I just know how Vic’s wired,” Turner said. “He’s been attacking this whole process. As you can see, he’s already on the court, stuff things people didn’t think he could do this early. I think Vic is going to want to come back earlier than expected.”
Oladipo is happy with some of the offseason moves the Pacers made, including trading for point guard Malcolm Brogdon, trading for forward T.J. Warren and signing shooting guard Jeremy Lamb as a free agent.
“We have very special pieces, and I believe we have a chance to be a very special team,” Oladipo said. “It’s going to be up to us how special we can be, so I’m looking forward to seeing how special we can be.”
There are nine new faces on the Pacers in total, and Oladipo wants to get to know all nine as quickly as possible off the court in order to establish chemistry on the court when he returns.
“We’re all young,” Oladipo said. “I’m pretty much the vet now. That’s kind of crazy to say. I’m looking forward to getting to know those guys and going out there and just fighting. I think that’s where it starts is building a relationship and a trust off the court, and it will translate on the court.”
Oladipo fielded a few more questions from reporters during his 16-minute address on the podium. He denied he was “Thingamajig” on the Fox show, “The Masked Singer,” even though the clues to the singer included the term “feathery” (an Oladipo catchphrase) and the number 4 (Oladipo’s uniform number).
“I keep getting that. Please stop [tagging] me on Instagram,” Oladipo said. “Look at me, why would I hide my face?”
Later, Oladipo was asked given the strenuous rehab process he’s gone through, if he could relate to Andrew Luck’s decision to retire from the Indianapolis Colts after going through multiple surgeries and multiple rehabs.
“All we can do is respect the fact that he went out there and did his best, did all he could,” Oladipo said. “At the end of the day let’s be real, all of those guys are out there killing themselves, every possession, every down. It’s a very dangerous spot.
“At the end of the day, if you were all in his position and you wanted to see your little baby grow up, too, but every time that you went out there, there might be a chance you might not be able to do that, what would you choose?
“That puts things in a totally different perspective, I’d say. I can’t answer that question. I don’t know what he went through because I’m not in his shoes, but I do respect him.”