Sports

Pacers’ Victor Oladipo denies wanting out of Indiana, says he is focused on ‘here and now’

Pacers star Victor Oladipo has denied he wants to leave Indiana amid rumors over his future.

The two-time All-Star has been the subject of numerous trade rumors during the NBA’s offseason as he enters the final year of his contract. The 28-year-old guard was traded to the Pacers in 2017 as part of a deal that sent Paul George to the Thunder.

MORE: Kevin Durant addresses James Harden trade rumors

Oladipo endured an injury-plagued season as the Pacers were swept in the opening round of the playoffs at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida amid the coronavirus pandemic, and he shot down rumors of a trade.

“Growing up, I was always taught not to engage in nonsense,” Oladipo told reporters on Tuesday, with the Pacers preparing for life under new head coach Nate Bjorkgren. “I never have. I never came out and said that I didn’t want to play for the Pacers or be in this organization, but, yeah, I’m focused on now. Here and now.”

Oladipo, who has played in only 55 regular-season games the past two years after suffering a ruptured quadriceps tendon in January 2019, averaged 14.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game in 2019-20. In four postseason games against the Heat, Oladipo averaged 17.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.

“It’s very difficult, especially when things are said about you that’s negative,” Oladipo said. “I’ve been in the league for eight years now, this is my eighth year, and this is the first time anyone has accused me of anything like this.

“It’s very interesting to me, but at the end of the day, I can’t let none of the stuff that I can’t control make me lose focus of what really matters, and that’s this team, my teammates, this organization and making sure I’m healthy.”

On his fitness, with the 2020-21 season due to get underway on Dec. 22, Oladipo said: “I feel a lot better, a lot stronger. There’s always room for improvement obviously, but I definitely feel better from even in the bubble until now. I think I’ve made some pretty drastic improvements.”

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