Clippers Trying to Determine If Paul George's Foot Injury Will Linger for Season

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2021

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul George watches play in the closing seconds of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George said Thursday he's working with the team to determine whether they can prevent his toe injury from lingering for the remainder of the 2020-21 NBA season.

"We are trying to figure it out now," George told reporters after the Clippers' 101-94 loss to the Denver Nuggets. "Honestly, we're trying to get on top of it now. Hasn't seemed to go away yet. But at this point it is just managing the soreness and swelling."

He added it's a "day-to-day process" that's led to a little improvement but not a complete recovery so far.

George returned from a two-game absence to play against the Nuggets. He struggled with his shot, hitting just five of his 15 attempts from the field, but finished with a solid stat line of 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists in 32 minutes.

L.A. has been trying to juggle their lineup with several players sitting out recently with a variety of ailments. Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley, Marcus Morris Sr., Rajon Rondo and Serge Ibaka are among the other rotation players to miss time.

The difficulty for the Clippers is trying to manage those injuries without sliding too far down the Western Conference standings. They are currently third with a 32-18 record, but that's only 1.5 games ahead of the sixth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers.

Their lead over the seventh-placed Dallas Mavericks is a more comfortable five games, so the Clips are trending well to avoid the play-in tournament before the playoffs, but they can't afford any type of extended losing streak that could bring that possibility into play.

George, who previously missed seven games with the toe injury in February, said he doesn't expect anybody to feel bad for them as they navigate the injury issues:

"I mean, it's no pity party. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us because we have guys out. We got to find the way to get the job done, and I think we have been doing that up until the last two games before we had some slippage. ...

"Hopefully at some point we will have a full healthy team. For us, it is just building habits and creating an identity, which you always want to do. As well as we have played this year, the identity of this team, we are still trying to solidify that. At some point, we got to find who we are and stick to that as a team."

The condensed schedule also complicates the recovery process. The Clippers have two days between Thursday's loss to the Nuggets and Sunday's rivalry clash with the Los Angeles Lakers. They don't have another two-day break without games until April 24-25, a stretch that includes three back-to-backs.

L.A. would love to clinch a top-four seed in the West early to have time to rest George, Leonard and Co. before the postseason, but the closely contested nature of the conference might not make that possible.

So the team will likely give George some occasional nights off, likely in those back-to-back situations, with hope extra rest during the final six weeks of the regular season helps him get healthy for the playoff run.