Pacers' Paul George walks without crutches, hopes to play this season
George, who suffered a compound tibia-fibula fracture during a Team USA intrasquad scrimmage in August, underwent surgery and is expected to miss the 2014-15 season, but he said he hopes he can play at some point this season.
George also said he will probably travel with the Pacers on road trips later in the season.
“Everything happens for a reason,” George said. “It gave me a chance to be in the weight room and spend some time there. I've got to use this as a blessing. It's tough to say you got hurt for a reason, but I honestly think I did. Now everything is starting to come back for me. I'm feeling great. I've been cleared to be in the weight room and work out. That's been keeping me positive and sane.”
“It's very possible that I can play (this season),” George said. “I've talked to all the guys and said, 'Man, you guys have to get in the playoffs. That's the best chance I've got of coming back and playing this year.' I've already got it in mind that I could miss this whole year. I'm come to peace with that, but I'd love to be able to come back and play again.”
George addressed the media about his injury last month, saying that "freak accidents happen" and that he didn't have a timeline for his recovery. The 24-year-old averaged 21.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists for the Pacers last season, earning All-Defensive team and All-NBA third team honors and his second All-Star appearance.
Fellow Pacers forward David West addressed the impact of George's injury after a team practice on Tuesday. The 32-year-old West said he considered retiring two seasons ago but decided to return because of his belief that the Pacers could compete for a championship. From The Indianapolis Star:
"At that moment, the light went out," West said. "Even with Lance (Stephenson) gone … before he gets hurt, I'm like, Paul's really going to have a chance to grow. So the light was still there. We'll just ride with Paul and see what happens. When he got hurt, I was sorta like 'damn!'"
"What we were looking for, obviously what our goals were as a group the last couple years, the light just went out on that," West continued. "I wouldn't necessarily say I was (declaring) I'm not going to play, but I definitely think about it. Like I said, I don't have a lot of time left in this league. I'm just one of those guys that just never intended to play a long time."
The Pacers went 56-26 and earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season before falling to the Miami Heat in the Conference Finals. This offseason, Indiana lost guards Evan Turner and Lance Stephenson but added guards C.J. Miles and Rodney Stuckey.
Indiana opens the upcoming season Oct. 29 against the Philadelphia 76ers.