The Indiana Pacers were dealt a brutal blow when star guard Victor Oladipo went down with a knee injury Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors. This led to the worst immediately being assumed on the severity of it, while fellow players and NBA fans sent thoughts to the 26-year-old. On Thursday afternoon, the bad news officially came on Oladipo’s injury and it will leave him sidelined for an extended period.
As the Pacers revealed, an MRI on Oladipo’s knee showed a ruptured quad tendon.
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. Further updates will be provided as warranted.
Following the tough news, the Pacers will move forward without their top offensive playmaker and are bound to search for a potential replacement for the remainder of the season. We’re going to evaluate a few options to take Oladipo’s spot moving forward, both on the team’s current roster and potential trades.
*Note: All trades were done with the ESPN Trade Machine.
Pacers Trade for Grizzlies’ Mike Conley
While the Pacers would be sending away a player in Tyreke Evans who’s expected to step in and take over Oladipo’s role, the team could get creative here. Adding a player like Mike Conley to step in as the new starter for Darren Collison would help to ease the scoring punch lost by Oladipo’s injury.
While moving Thaddeus Young isn’t ideal, I like the idea of having Domantas Sabonis in the starting lineup. It’s worth noting that Young is also in the final year of his deal with the team. Although Dillon Brooks has played a minimal role for the Memphis Grizzlies this season, he’s averaged 7.5 points in 18.3 minutes per game. If the Pacers opted to start Conley at point guard and potentially Cory Joseph or Aaron Holiday at shooting guard, it would leave the other, along with Brooks, to provide bench scoring.
Pacers Trade With Knicks
Although Tim Hardaway Jr.’s shot hasn’t fallen at the rate you’d hope to see, there are a few things to like about this deal. For starters, the New York Knicks guard’s current shooting percentage of 39.2 is the lowest he’s posted in the past three years, so there’s a reason for optimism.
Beyond that, this gives the Pacers a few options at shooting guard, including either starting Hardaway or rolling with Tyreke Evans to replace Oladipo. Beyond that, Indiana could then start Sabonis or go with Noah Vonleh, who can either come off the bench or provide production with the first five.
Turning to Tyreke Evans as Oladipo’s Replacement
Evans’ minutes during his first season with the Pacers have been hit-or-miss, but he’s flashed glimpses of upside throughout his career. Although he’s averaging just 10.9 points per game on 39.3 percent shooting, he had an impressive 2017-18 season with the Grizzlies.
Evans has seen just 20.5 minutes per game this year, down more than 10 minutes from last season, a year in which he averaged 19.4 points, 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds. The 29-year-old also shot 45.2 percent from the field and 39.9 percent from beyond the arc over that span.
In the past seven games with the Pacers, Evans has scored in double figures each game while topping 14 points four times. He’s also shot 42.9 percent or better in four of the seven as well. The upside is there, and while he won’t fully fill the void left by Oladipo’s injury, he could at least help with the on-court production a decent amount.