Pacers forward Paul George spoke with the media following Friday's practice about his rehabilitation from a fractured right tibia/fibia suffered on Aug. 1. It was the first time George had open availability with the media since an Aug. 15 press conference.
In total, George spoke for a little over 10 minutes about his rehabilitation, estimated recovery time, and watching and encouraging his teammates while he is sidelined. You can watch the full video and selected highlights in the player above.
QUOTED: Paul George 1-on-1 Interview »
George has been shooting after practice for several weeks, but otherwise, his conditioning has been limited to running on a treadmill in a pool. As early as next week, George says he could begin "real limited" work on the court.
Head coach Frank Vogel said Friday that the exact timetable for George's full recovery remains unknown, but that he believes it is "very unlikely" that George plays in the 2014-15 season. George, however, is holding out hope that he can beat the odds.
"It's a goal for sure to be able to have an opportunity to play this year," George said.
George, a two-time All-Star, dismissed any notion that might not be the same caliber of player when he does return to the court.
"I would never have any doubt," said George, who won't turn 25 until May. "I'm completely confident that we're going down the right path. And when that time comes and my number's called and I'm ready to go, there will be no doubt in my mind that I'm coming back better."
While he's out, George is trying to stay as engaged as possible with his teammates and coaches. George has been present for virtually every home practice and shootaround this season. He's a regular participant in post-practice games of Around the World, where he's always laughing and talking a little friendly smack talk.
As a safety precaution, George sits at the scorer's table next to Pacers Director of Public Relations David Benner during games, which has led to a running joke that George is a PR intern.
George admitted that not being able to play has been very "tough," but he said he feels it is important for him to stay engaged as much as possible.
"I get a chance to sit back and watch the game from a different perspective," George said "...I still feel I'm contributing by being in (my teammates') ears."
George hasn't traveled for road games so far this season. He said he watches all the games and then tries to give his teammates notes when they get back to Indianapolis. George said he may go on some of the longer road trips and plans to regularly travel with the team later in the season, but for now it makes the most sense for him to say in Indiana so he can keep a regular rehabilitation schedule.
George hasn't been the only Pacers player sidelined so far this season. Five other players have missed significant time and three (George Hill, David West, and C.J. Watson) have yet to play in the regular season.
But the young and short-handed Pacers have impressed plenty with their resiliency, including George. After a 1-6 start, Indiana has won four of its last five games, including road wins at Miami and Chicago.
"These guys aren't caught up with who's in a jersey and who's out of a jersey," George said. "They're still going out and representing. You can't be more proud of that."