Since the L.A. Clippers’ major splash moves in the offseason, the team has remained patient with All-Star forward Paul George’s recovery process after a pair of shoulder surgeries. In recent weeks, he has ramped it up with growing expectations that he would be back on the floor in the near future. There is now finally some clarity on that front with George’s return date now set in stone.
Paul George’s long recovery
The Clippers have ventured through training camp, preseason, and the early goings of the regular season without George in the mix.
His path to recovery has been smooth, with him being able to operate at his own pace as the team had kept away from putting an exact return date. Instead, he continued to ramp up his level of activity on the court as he participated in his first 5-on-5 drill last week in the past several months.
The Clippers have been able to stay well above water with George sidelined, having won seven out of their first 10 games that have put them among the top records in the Western Conference. That could take another shift in the right direction, with their star forward finally officially lined up to make his first appearance of the season.
Paul George locks in his Clippers’ debut date
Over the last several days, there has been chatter that George was drawing close to making his debut with the Clippers.
That day has been marked on the calendar for L.A. as the 29-year-old is expected to play in Thursday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
That will put him on the court for the second leg of a back-to-back set as the Clippers will be taking on the Houston Rockets the night before that contest. There was never the expectation that he was going to take the floor for both games as it would be far too much work for him to take on out the gate.
George will likely play in limited minutes as he works his way back into game shape and his body adjusts to taking part in an NBA game that will take a few weeks for him to get accustomed to playing again fully. The Clippers will operate in the manner of bringing him along slowly as there is a great level of expectation for him and Leonard to lead the team toward contending for a championship.
Clippers must continue to practice patience
The Clippers are in a unique position that they haven’t been before in their franchise history, being pegged as the favorites to win the NBA title.
The team has in place two of the top players in the league in the prime of their careers leading the charge. It has put a great deal of importance on the franchise to handle their health situations moving forward this season correctly.
That has been the case with Leonard despite drawing ire for continuing to go with a load management game plan. The Clippers will also have the task of working their two All-Stars together on the floor as the team is still making adjustments with the reigning MVP Finals MVP leading the charge.
L.A. will have much more to do in that regard, with George working his way into the fold of learning to play alongside his new teammates while seeing how he can work best playing alongside Leonard. There is still plenty of time for the Clippers to work out the kinks, it’s just a matter of them remaining fixated on the long-term goal through it all.