Miami Heat‘s training camp officially started on Tuesday, and the excitement from the players and staff to get back to work was palpable. However, one player is still not ready to jump right back onto the court, Victor Oladipo.
The two-time All-Star, who only appeared in four games with the Heat before suffering another season-ending injury, his second in 28 months, admitted on media day that his road back to health has been an uphill battle.
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“It’s been really tough,” Oladipo said, per Miami Herald‘s Barry Jackson. “This is another battle in the books for me. I want to show my resiliency and have one of the best comeback stories ever. I want to make the most of my situation. It’s easy to quit and say ‘woe is me,’ but that doesn’t solve the problem. I know there are a lot of eyes watching. Hopefully, I can be a vessel for them and show them they can get through anything if they really put their mind to it.”
Miami resigned Oladipo to a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract in August, and if he’s able to have “one of the best comeback stories ever,” Miami can surpass the salary cap to resign him since the Heat own his Bird Rights. But the 29-year-old guard said that that conversation hasn’t happened with Heat president Pat Riley.
“Even Pat’s conversation was ‘keep the main thing the main thing,’ Oladipo said. ‘Get healthy. Everything else will take care of itself.'”
Riley’s non-committal statement sounds on par with the remarks he made at his annual postseason press conference on June 3: “He’s like any other free agent on the team who sustained an injury. He will be rehabbing with us until he’s healthy enough to get out of that cast. We will monitor him, work with him, and then see what happens.”
Oladipo Remains Unsure His Return Timeline
The Heat took a gamble resigning Oladipo, who requires ample time to rehab his second quadriceps injury before he’s back. At first, Oladipo was not expected to play again until 2022, but on August 20, Dr. Jonathon Glashow, who performed Oladipo’s season-ending surgery, revealed he’s expected to be back in action before the new year.
“I repaired the quad tendon and did it a little differently than [he had] it done before,” Dr. Glashow told ESPN. “The quad wasn’t really hooked up. It was torn, and I reattached it. I was amazed he was playing with what he had. I’m very optimistic that I could clear him in six months, by November. I think he’s going to play really well again… [The surgery] went extremely well, and it’s healing beautifully. I’m confident he’ll play next year.”
Despite the surgeon’s optimistic timeline, Oladipo said on media day that wasn’t sure if he’d appear in a game before 2022, or. before February’s All-Star break. “I wish I had the answers, but I really don’t know.”
“Hopefully, sooner than later,” Oladipo added, who’s been medically cleared to do “super light stuff, nothing crazy… I’m doing better now. I have no control of the past. Here and now, I feel great. I’m getting better every day.”
When asked if he can run full speed, “I’m not full speed any way.”
Oladipo Is Excited to Stay in Miami
Oladipo first joined the Heat on March 25, a trade deal that involved Miami sending Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, and a 2022 draft pick to the Houston Rockets in exchange for the Indiana alum.
Oladipo made it clear that he wanted to stay with the Heat for the long term following the trade. He put down some very expensive roots in Miami, purchasing a $7.8 million home on Hibiscus Drive, as reported by The Real Deal.
The veteran guard said he took a veteran’s minimum deal to remain in Miami because he’s yet to prove himself:
I wasn’t given the opportunity to be my best self here. I don’t know what our team would have done with a healthy version of me because I wasn’t given that opportunity; I was dealt a bad hand. I feel there’s unfinished business here. I feel like I came here for a reason and there’s a purpose for me being here and I’m trying to find out what that is. I believe it’s a good one. I believe we can do something very special here for years to come and I want to be a part of it.