Paul George Injury: Updates on Pacers Star's Recovery from Leg Surgery

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured Columnist

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Indiana Pacers star Paul George made his return from the severe leg injury he suffered in early August 2014 while playing for Team USA when the Pacers took the court on April 5 against the Miami Heat

Continue for updates.

George Returns vs. Heat

Sunday, April 5

George officially returned to the Pacers tonight and Bleacher Report captured him checking into the game for his first action of the 2014-15 season:

Bleacher Report NBA @BR_NBA

Welcome back Paul George! PG checks into the game for the first time this season http://t.co/jLDvCdtjnZ

He would go on to score 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting while grabbing two rebounds and dishing out two assists in 15 minutes of action as the Pacers defeated the Heat, 112-89. 

George Says He Will Return on Sunday

Saturday, April 4

George announced Saturday that he was planning to return to the Pacers lineup Sunday against the Miami Heat:

The Pacers currently trail the Heat by 1.5 games for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot, so a win Sunday would put them right back in the thick of the playoff race.

George Won't Play vs. Bucks

Thursday, March 26

George is listed as out against Milwaukee, per Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports.

On March 24, it emerged that Larry Bird and Frank Vogel were not on the same page regarding George's potential return. Bird told ESPN.com's Mike Mazzeo that he expects the Pacers star to return this season:

He's getting a lot better. I think he has to go through a series of tests this week, just like we've always been doing to see where he's at. I think he's cleared by the doctors to play, but obviously he's not in shape. Just because he's cleared to play, doesn't mean he's in shape to play. And I don't want Paul to go out there until he feels comfortable with his conditioning and the way he's practicing. I'd like to see him do a little bit better. 

It was a rough go at the beginning, which we knew it was going to be. He [isn't] going to be Paul George, 100 percent. We know that. But I think mentally he wants to get out there, play a few games and get ready to see what he needs to do this summer to get back to 100 percent—and he will. 

I expect him to play this year. I hope he does for his own good—not for us to get in the playoffs or anything like that, but just for his own mental state. I think anytime you go through an injury like that, you have to get back out there and prove yourself. But he's not going to be 100 percent.

However, Vogel didn't share Bird's sentiments, per Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star:

Vogel offered the opposite: "There's a lot of layers to that, so he hasn't been cleared to play for us."

Vogel, who has had to face daily questions about a possible return more than the player and the president, repeated that George was cleared to practice. When told that Bird mentioned the clearance was to play, which would be a dramatic difference, Vogel replied: "Well, that's what Larry said."

"Like I said," Vogel continued, "there's a lot of layers to it. He's not ready. He hasn't reached our level of what we feel he's ready to play."

George Denies He's Targeting Return This Week

Monday, March 23

George spoke about his recovery and eventual return to the court, denying he is planning to return this week, per the Pacers' Twitter account"I don't know where that came from."

The Pacers passed along more comments from George on how he feels as he continues to go through his rehab:

Indiana Pacers @Pacers

.@Yg_Trece "When the time is ready, I'll be back out there." http://t.co/vA73zOca43

Indiana Pacers @Pacers

PG: "I've reached a point where I know if something's not right, but there are times where I surprise myself."

On March 21, ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst reported that George was targeting a return within the next week. 

George Speaks on Potential Return, Will Take Part in Team USA Camp

Thursday, March 19

According to Steve Aschburner of NBA.com, George spoke to reporters about his mindset regarding a potential return this season:

I think if it gets to the point where these guys are in the playoffs, and I'm thinking about coming back, I think at that point, I might as well let these guys finish the year out because that's just too big to try and make a push.

I want to play, but I don't want to play under any terms of just wanting to get out there. I want to be fully healthy. It's different if this was the beginning of the year, and we were still trying to find our way. But these guys are playing at the top at their game right now and again, the last thing I want to do is slow them down.

George also mentioned to Aschburner that he will take part in USA Basketball's summer minicamp, per John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “I’m in,” George said. “Of course. The day it happened,” George added, referencing his injury, “right after, I told them I looked forward to continuing on with USA basketball.” 

Teammate Says George 'Not Even Close to 100 Percent'

Monday, March 16

Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star revealed what some of George's teammates had to say about his recovery:

George topped his goal of returning to full practice by early March and has continued his own restoration routine without any setbacks. However, even as George has practiced for three weeks, Pacers' teammates, while highly supportive, see a player who looks good for someone who broke his leg while noting that he is still on the mend. One teammate declared that George is "not even close to 100 percent" while expressing strong skepticism about a return this year.

George Speaks About Recovery from Injury in Exclusive Bleacher Report Interview 

Thursday, Feb. 26

George spoke with Bleacher Report about his recovery from the injury he suffered in July: 

George Practices, Vogel Comments on Status

Thursday, Feb. 26

The Pacers announced that George practiced and shared a few images of him on the court:

Indiana Pacers @Pacers

Paul George is practicing with the team today and will speak to the media after practice. http://t.co/9VfLAKcz33

The Pacers and Jared Wade of 8points9seconds.com provided comments from George, who spoke after practice:

Indiana Pacers @Pacers

.@Yg_Trece says he still has a long way to go, but as he progresses, "I see the old PG coming back." http://t.co/l8h3kHwJ9m

Indiana Pacers @Pacers

"I do feel stronger on the court. I've put on a lot of strength in the weight room." Paul George says he now weighs around 235lbs.

8 Points, 9 Seconds @8pts9secs

Paul George on returning in mid-March: "That is the date I wish to return ... That is still a goal of mine."

Vogel specified that George has been cleared to practice, not play. He added, per the Pacers, "He's just been doing a little more and more... Today was his first full practice."

Vogel also said there is "no timetable for his return. He's got a long way to go before he gets cleared to play."

Teammate Roy Hibbert commented on how George looked at practice, via Buckner.

"He looked good out there," Hibbert said. "I think he did a helluva good job today."

B/R Exclusive: George Relives Leg Injury, Discusses Recovery

Wednesday, Jan. 28

In episode No. 1 of Bleacher Report's exclusive video series with Paul George, the Pacers star relives his nightmare leg injury while discussing his recovery:

George Still Limited to Non-Contact Work

Tuesday, Jan. 27

Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports passed along an update on Paul George from Vogel, who said that the Pacers star is still limited to non-contact drills but is increasing his workload.

George Dunking While Recovering from Leg Injury

Sunday, Jan. 15

It was quite apparent that George had a long road to recovery ahead of him when he suffered a gruesome leg injury in a July 2014 Team USA scrimmage ahead of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. George hasn't reached the end yet, but he continues to make great progress.    

The Pacers posted a Vine of the two-time NBA All-Star dunking on Thursday:

Indiana Pacers @Pacers

Another step in his recovery: @Yg_Trece dunks. https://t.co/k89FVnu7qO

The injury occurred under freakish circumstances when George attempted to block a shot by Houston Rockets guard James Harden from behind. When George came down, his foot and leg got caught under the hoop's stanchion.

George fractured both the tibia and fibula in his right leg. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports reported soon after the injury occurred that George would likely miss the entire 2014-15 NBA season:

In November, Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports provided a synopsis of George stating his goal was to return this season. Agness noted in October, though, that the Pacers were not anticipating George returning this season.

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