Among the continuing 22 NBA teams, players not playing in the resumption at Disney World essentially fall into two categories:
- Healthy: Base salary reduced
- Not healthy: Base salary preserved
Pacers star Victor Oladipo lands in the gray area.
Oladipo, who returned from a year-long absence shortly before the season got suspended in March, said he was sitting out due to elevated risk of injury during a quick buildup. But he also traveled with the team to Orlando and is even practicing so well, Indiana is reportedly becoming increasingly optimistic he’ll play.
Is Oladipo healthy enough to play?
At stake for Oladipo:
- $2,763,158 if the Pacers get swept in the first round
- $2,993,421 if they play exactly five playoff games
- $3,223,684 if they play six or more playoff games
The union believes Oladipo, who went to Orlando with the Pacers and then cleared quarantine so he could practice, should be paid his remaining salary, sources said.
The league, largely in an effort to set a precedent in case other players who are deemed healthy want to leave Orlando and no longer play, believes Oladipo has opted out and should not be paid, sources said. His public comments about feeling healthy has only solidified the league’s position on the matter, sources said.
The Pacers support Oladipo’s decision and are willing to pay him the salary whether he plays or not, sources said.
Presumably, if Oladipo plays, he’ll get paid like anyone else playing in the resumption. This controversy lingers only if Oladipo doesn’t play.
It’s unsurprising the Pacers don’t want to pick this fight with their star player, especially as he approaches 2021 free agency. Trying to avoid alienating their own players but not necessarily eager to pay for services not rendered, teams collectively want the league to handle these issues.
If teams had ample discretion, the Wizards might have said Davis Bertans – who chose to sit out – had some lingering injury. NBA players are rarely perfectly healthy. There’s always some physical issue to point to. Bertans will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and they want to re-sign him. What an easy way to build goodwill – and maybe even get a discount on Bertans’ next contract.
Obviously, the league doesn’t want those type of shenanigans. That’s why on outside rulings on players’ health can be important.
Oladipo might not be the only borderline case:
- The Wizards listed Bradley Beal as out due to a shoulder injury. But Beal’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, said the conversation would’ve been different if Washington were a championship contender.
- Phoenix forward Kelly Oubre Jr. was sidelined by a knee injury when the season got suspended. Suns owner Robert Sarver said he expected Oubre to play in the resumption. Instead, Oubre won’t play, citing the injury.
- Nets center DeAndre Jordan contracted coronavirus and seemingly ruled himself out before determining whether he’d recover in time to play.
- Brooklyn guard Spencer Dinwiddie gave it a go after his coronavirus diagnosis, but he also bowed out with plenty of recovery time remaining.
Oladipo’s situation might take care of itself if he decides to play. But the league might inquire more deeply into other situations.