Paul George’s debut with the Los Angeles Clippers will have to wait.
George, who underwent multiple minor shoulder surgeries this summer, is targeting a “November-ish” return, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne on Sunday. He will only take part in non-contact drills at training camp, and will miss the season-opener next month against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I will be out of the preseason,” George said, via ESPN. “As of now, I'll be out of October fully, but who knows? We'll see. In the November range is our target date.”
George had rotator cuff surgery on his right shoulder this offseason, and then had a second surgery on his left shoulder to repair his left labrum. Both injuries limited him significantly at the end of the season for the Thunder, who lost to the Trail Blazers in the first round of the playoffs.
The 29-year-old, though, said on Sunday at the team’s media day that he was happy with the progress he’s made in his recovery, and that he’s “close.”
“Honestly, I’m a lot far along ... I’m not 100 percent, but if I had to put a percentage on it, I think I’m about 85, 90-ish,” George said, via NBATV. “Not all the way there, still got a little bit of stuff, range and stuff and all that to work through, a little strength to work through. But I’m close. I’m happy where I’m at.”
While the Clippers would have loved to have him on the court with Leonard for their much-anticipated season-opener against the Lakers, there isn’t much of a reason to rush his return — especially if he doesn’t feel like his old self yet.
In the long run, taking the cautious route with their new star is the smart move for the Clippers front office — one they’re hoping will pay off later on this season.
Paul George hoping to play in 2020 Olympics
While a number of stars have already committed to playing for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics next summer, George isn’t quite there yet.
George — who suffered an extremely graphic leg injury during a Team USA scrimmage in 2014 ahead of the FIBA World Cup, which took him nearly a full year to recover from — didn’t rule out a return to Team USA. If he’s healthy when the time comes, he said he’s all in.
The Clippers, though, come first.
“I would love to [play in the Olympics],” George said, via the Los Angeles Times’ Andrew Grief. “Hopefully, God willing, I can get through a season healthy ... as long as I’m healthy.”
Leonard has similar feelings toward next summer’s games, and isn’t willing to commit just yet.
“I do want to play. But I’m taking it one step at a time,” Leonard said, via USA Today’s Mark Medina. “Right now, it’s about taking the Clippers to the Finals.”
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