Discover more from Fieldhouse Files with Scott Agness
Pacers forward T.J. Warren is away from the team for the rest of the season
He hasn't been with the team recently and was ruled out for the season. Here's why.
Pacers forward T.J. Warren is away from the team for the rest of the 2021-22 season.
The following statement was provided to Fieldhouse Files by the team.
“T.J. Warren will continue his ramp-up for next season at his home in Raleigh, NC. He has the full support of the Pacers organization and medical staff.”
After practicing and participating in some 5-on-5 play, the team announced on March 17 that he was ruled out for the season.
“We’re all disappointed,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “I know he’s very disappointed. He’s extremely close, he was extremely close (to returning), it’s just the timetable is just not there. The hourglass on this season has just gotten too short. I personally believe that he will be back, it’s just uncertain as to the exact timetable.”
The injury to his left foot, specifically a navicular fracture, is a painful one that takes time to heal. And basketball is everything to Warren. He’s a gym rat, and it’s his escape. When healthy, he’ll play anywhere anytime.
He’s also a very private person. He just tweeted yesterday for the first time since training camp to congratulate former teammate (and basketball guy) Jamal Crawford on his retirement.
After a special first season with the Pacers, leading them in scoring (19.8 ppg), Warren suffered a stress fracture in his left foot during the first week of the 2020-21 season.
He has not played in a game since Dec. 29, 2020 against the Boston Celtics. He then had surgery on Jan. 5, 2021 — performed by Dr. Martin O’Malley at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
“It’s very unfortunate going through foot surgery,” Warren said in May, after last season. “Second foot, same injury. It wasn’t a fun process at all seeing different type of holes I could have filled in for the team and different areas my presence could have been felt.
“I just know it can’t storm forever and the sun has to come out so just looking forward to that, next year, training camp and on.”
Then in early September, three weeks before training camp, the Pacers announced that his foot was not healing at the pace anticipated and he would be out indefinitely. He will have missed 150 of a possible 154 games over the last two seasons.
The Pacers (25-47) have 10 games left and will not make the playoffs for the second consecutive season. And Warren, 28, becomes unrestricted free agent in July.
So not only did he have the game taken away from him the past two seasons and he’s working toward being healthy, but he also has an uncertain future.
“After thoughtful conversation with T.J. and his representatives, it has been determined that the most beneficial course of action at this point is to allow him to focus on the 2022-23 season,” team president Kevin Pritchard said in a statement last week.
Warren was acquired on a draft-night trade with the Phoenix Suns in 2019. His close friend and mentor is David West, who also lives in Raleigh. “I was excited for him to get traded to the Pacers,” West told me then. “He needs that stability, he needs a good environment. That’s the biggest thing I was excited about.”
However, being at the practice facility and around his teammates was a daily reminder of what he couldn’t do for the time being, and that would wear on a person. So Warren is back home in Raleigh and will continue his rehab there.
That’s why he hasn’t been on the bench for games this month, and it’s why he wasn’t present to be included in the official team photo for the 2021-22 season — which was taken on March 22 at the St. Vincent Center.