Paul George could return to NBA action this season as soon as early March, Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird indicated on Tuesday.
George suffered a compound fracture in his right leg on August 1, 2014 during a Team USA scrimmage. He underwent surgery and was given a timeline of seven months recovery.
George was spotted shooting jumpers in mid-October after being cleared to put weight on the leg and engage in upper-body work in late September. The Pacers posted a video in January of George dunking at practice.
Bird went on record in a talk with reporters that was published on the NBA’s official website, saying that George could very well return for at least 20 games. The Pacers have 23 games on the schedule after March 1.
“It seems like every week Paul is getting better and better,” Bird said. “So if we do have an opportunity to get into the playoffs and (George) can get some games under his belt and get ready to go next year. I always say if a player is ready to play, they gotta play. We’re not going to hold him back if he’s able to go out there and play.”
Bird said that George is currently running, although he doesn’t look very good.
“They tell me 7 months that bone will be completely healed and it’s just how much further he comes after that,” he added.
“I have no clue on whether he’ll play or not, but if he gets healthy and they say he can play and he wants to play we’ll put him out there.”
George recently was featured in a Bleacher Report video chronicling his recovery. George concluded the video by promising: “I will be back.”
Coach Frank Vogel mentioned George this week, telling reporters after a loss to the Sacramento Kings that the team misses George’s scoring.
The Pacers are currently 17-32, but only 4.5 games back from the eighth seed and 5 games back from the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. If the team can pick up its play, and if George does return, it could actually have a shot of making the playoffs.