NBA: Indiana Paul George has first full workout since injury
Indiana Pacers star Paul George underwent Thursday his first full practice session since breaking his right leg last August and said he hopes to return for NBA games in March.
Las Vegas: Indiana Pacers star Paul George underwent Thursday his first full practice session since breaking his right leg last August and said he hopes to return for NBA games in March.
The 24-year-old small forward suffered the injury August 1 in Las Vegas during a practice match by the USA team that would go on to win last year`s Basketball World Cup, a gruesome open tibia-fibula fracture in the fourth quarter.
Most expected that George would miss the entire 2014-15 NBA campaign but he vowed to return for at least a portion of the season and took a major step toward that goal Thursday.
"It felt really good," George said. "I`m still hoping for March. That`s the date I wish to return. I still have some steps to overcome, some hurdles. But that`s a goal of mine."
That would be good news for the Pacers, who without George are fighting to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010 after reaching the Eastern Conference finals the past two seasons.
"He has just been doing a little more and more," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said, calling his latest workout "just taking a step. Nothing more.
"(There is) no timetable for his return. He`s got a long way to go before he gets cleared to play. I`m hopeful. But a lot has to happen before then."
At 23-34, the Pacers are level with Detroit for last in the Central division, but only one game behind Charlotte and Brooklyn in a fight for the last Eastern Conference playoff spot that has five clubs within one game.
George, named the NBA`s Most Improved Player in 2013, averaged 21.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists for the Pacers last season, when they lost to Miami in six games. In 2013 they pushed the eventual NBA champion Heat to seven games before falling in the East final.
George has been careful in his rehabilitation regimen to avoid pushing too hard too soon.
"I don`t put myself in a position where I`m uncomfortable. It`s just seeing how much I can take and going from there," he said. "I`m not worried about the bone breaking again. I`m just trying to come out here and give my all and just trust my leg."
And while he might be able to offer Indiana a late-season boost in the playoff fight, George knows his return to full strength is not yet complete.
"To be able to go through a full practice, to be able to go up and down, it`s a big step for me," he said. "I like the progress. I`m happy where I am at right now. I`ve still got a long way to go."