On July 3, Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers made headlines when he announced that he would be opting out of the NBA’s resumption in Orlando. Oladipo, who ruptured the quad tendon in his right knee in January 2019, played just 13 games before the season was suspended.
Still trying to work himself back into shape, Oladipo — considering the long-term impact to his career — decided to be cautious and forgo participating in Orlando. It’s noteworthy considering the Pacers will enter play on July 30 as the Eastern Conference’s fifth-ranked team.
Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets, John Wall of the Washington Wizards and Avery Bradley of the Los Angeles Lakers are three other players who decided to skip Orlando, as well. Durant and Wall, like Oladipo, have their own injury concerns, while Bradley cited family issues as the reason for pulling out.
Danilo Gallinari had a dilemma of his own. The 31-year-old will become a free agent at the conclusion of the season, and with his advanced age, he’ll be competing for what will likely be the final big-money contract of his career. An unfortunate injury — such as the one suffered by former Los Angeles Laker DeMarcus Cousins — could adversely affect his market value. But Gallinari’s isn’t concerned about that.
Some experts feel that the league’s players will be at increased risk of injury considering the long layoff, but the sharpshooting forward is fully committed to playing in Orlando, much to the benefit of his club.
Gallinari addressed reporters, including The Oklahoman’s Joe Mussatto, on July 3 and made that clear.
Gallinari will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and one of the best players available in an underwhelming free agent class… He’s a month away from turning 32, and although he’s stayed healthy this season, the smooth shooting power forward has dealt with major injuries over the course of his 12-year NBA career.
“Not in my mind or my agent’s mind,” Gallinari said Friday on a conference call. “The main reason is because we are fighting for something, and I think that what we are fighting for and what we play for is more important than the free agency that I’m going to approach.”
In other words, Gallinari believes that the Thunder are a true contender and that he’s not going out to Orlando or putting himself at risk for no reason. The team has a real opportunity to continue to make noise in the Western Conference, and he’s there for it.
That deserves more than some positive press — it deserves our respect. The Thunder will resume play on Aug. 3 when they battle the Utah Jazz.