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INDIANAPOLIS – The lone All-Star of the 2019-20 Indiana Pacers is leaving the Orlando bubble due to injury.

 

When, or if, Domantas Sabonis returns to the bubble will have massive implications on if the Pacers can have any notable success in the NBA’s re-start.

 

On Friday afternoon, the Pacers announced that Sabonis will be leaving Orlando to receive ‘medical treatment for plantar fasciitis in his left foot.’ His availability to return is yet to be determined, the team added.

 

Before Friday’s announcement there was going concern about Sabonis being ready for the start of the regular season portion of their schedule, which starts for Indiana on Saturday, August 1st.

 

Sabonis initially felt the foot ailment back in June, but it flared up again during 5-on-5 practice work last week in Orlando.

 

With the Pacers hoping several days of rest, and not putting weight on it, would help things, it’s clearly not done enough with Sabonis now heading off site.

 

Prior to the NBA re-start, Sabonis expressed some concern over potential soft tissue injuries that could arise in the unusual time off/ramp up period into the postseason.

 

The absence of Sabonis, for any amount of time, is a crushing blow to the Pacers. Sabonis initiates so much offensive flow for the starting unit, and is also a key cog to the reserve group as well.

 

During the regular season, Sabonis missed just 3 games, and earned an All-Star nod by averaging 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.

 

Replacing Sabonis will be no easy task. Myles Turner (who missed Thursday’s first scrimmage with a minor calf injury) must become a more consistent rebounder and stay out of foul trouble. Rookie Goga Bitadze has yet to practice in Orlando due to a knee injury. JaKarr Sampson might be an option to provide some rebounding off the bench. And the Pacers could/should explore the idea of going smaller with a guy like Justin Holiday seeing an expanded role.

One has to wonder how this news to Sabonis might impact Victor Oladipo (knee) making a decision on whether or not to play.

 

The Pacers play 8 regular season games from August 1-August 14, with the playoffs following.

 

Considering the nature of this injury to linger, particularly for big men, one should not expect Sabonis to automatically return to Orlando and play. That decision remains to be seen though.

 

Sabonis, 24, signed a 4-year contract extension with the Pacers last October, which has him under contract through the 2023-24 season.