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Report: Pacers’ chemistry suffered last season thanks to Victor Oladipo injury, Tyreke Evans drama

Victor Oladipo, Tyreke Evans, Pacers

The Indiana Pacers locker room suffered a hit to its chemistry after the loss of star and team leader Victor Oladipo, who suffered a torn quadriceps tendon during a Jan. 23 game against the Toronto Raptors. To pile on even more, the drama surrounding guard Tyreke Evans, who is now serving a two-year suspension from the league over violating the drug policy, was also a factor on this roller-coaster ride, as he was on the verge of being cut on several occasions until veterans Thaddeus Young, Cory Joseph and Darren Collison stepped in, according to J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.

There also was an unhappiness with younger players wanting a chance for more minutes or a better role, while head coach Nate McMillan stuck with his veteran lineup, creating further frustration and a divide between younger and established players. This kind of friction is not rare in the NBA, especially with a bevy of players on expiring contracts approaching the free-agency process.

Despite being a young player in the league, Oladipo’s leadership has taken a giant step since he was traded to the Pacers, and his temporary loss to undergo surgery kept him removed from the team until he was capable of walking back into the facility. He’s not expected back to begin the season, but rather later after his injury fully heals.

Evans was coming off a resurgent season with the Memphis Grizzlies, only to find himself in a different and diminished role, which would lead to not only frustration but acts of disruption. He was fined by the team for in-house incidents and even missed a game against the New York Knicks for personal reasons — an action that raised eyebrows across the league.