INDIANAPOLIS -- The return date for Indiana Pacers All-Star guard Victor Oladipo from his gruesome knee injury in January is still up in the air. Pacers coach Nate McMillan just knows that Oladipo will not be ready for the start of the season.
"I don't anticipate Victor being available for a while, and I don't know what a while is," McMillan said. "There's no timetable."
Oladipo, talking for just the second time since he ruptured the quad tendon in his right knee against Toronto on Jan. 23, was coy and would not go into details on what he's been able to do on the court or what physical obstacles remain before he returns.
"Let's be real, I am human," he said. "It hasn't been easy. There have been tough days. There have been days that have been tougher than others. But for the most part, I've survived every single one of them. When I say I'm coming back better than ever, I'm not just saying that because it sounds good. I truly believe that."
Oladipo was averaging 18.8 points a game when he suffered the injury running back to defend a fast break by Toronto's Pascal Siakam in the second quarter. Oladipo has spent the past eight months rehabbing, including at the team's practice facility in the early hours of the day to work on his shooting form.
McMillan said Oladipo will not be a full participant in practice once the Pacers open training camp Saturday, but he's hoping he'll be able to do some shooting with his teammates.
"I haven't had any information given to me that he will be practicing live anytime soon," McMillan said.
Once Oladipo does return, he'll join a team that will have two new starters who weren't on the roster the last time he played in a game. The Pacers signed seven free agents during the offseason. McMillan plans to open training camp with Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb in the backcourt and T.J. Warren, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner in the frontcourt. Brogdon, Lamb and Warren were offseason additions.
"I think we've done a really good job in free agency," Oladipo said. "I believe we got very special pieces. I believe we have a chance to be a very special team. It's going to be up to us how special we want to be."
The Eastern Conference had several key players switch teams over the summer. Kawhi Leonard is in the Western Conference with the Clippers in Los Angeles, his hometown. Kyrie Irving left Boston for Brooklyn. Jimmy Butler went from Philadelphia to Miami. Al Horford now calls Philadelphia home instead of Boston.
The Pacers have been knocked out in the first round of the playoffs four straight years. That didn't stop Oladipo from proclaiming where he thinks they rank in the East.
"I think we're the best team in the East," he said. "I thought that last year. I thought that the year before. I don't care who added to who. That's how I feel. Call me crazy, call me crazy. That's fine. I really don't care."