In the months heading into the 2019-20 season, the expectation was that All-Star forward Paul George would miss some time to begin the year. George has been on a steady path towards recovery from dual shoulder surgery that he underwent over the offseason. However, the L.A. Clippers have honed in on a return date to have George back in the mix.
Paul George continues recovery
Injuries hampered the 29-year-old down the stretch of the season and into the playoffs that impacted his play. Since then, George has been progressing through his rehab that forced him to miss training camp and the entire preseason.
There hasn’t been any concern that George will be out of the lineup much longer as he has been able to participate in individual drills in practice. He hasn’t gone through any limitations as the team is merely taking the prudent route with his recovery.
All that has only further fueled the conversation that he’s nearing his return.
Clippers expect Paul George back soon
Since the start of the regular season, the Clippers have remained firm that George may miss around the first month.
Head coach Doc Rivers has also voiced that the All-Star forward would be out of the mix for the first 10 games. With that in mind, Sam Amick of The Athletic is reporting that L.A. has centered on George being back on the floor during their back-to-back set of road games next week.
In terms of a specific return date for George, sources tell The Athletic the Clippers are focused on the back-to-back set of road games at Houston (Nov. 13) and New Orleans (Nov. 14). If he plays against the Rockets, he’s not expected to play in the Pelicans game.
That would put George right at the mark suggested by Rivers before the start of the year. The fact that he will play in just the first leg of the back-to-back games makes sense given that he’s returning from injury, and there is no need to put that type of physical toll on him out of the gate.
The Clippers will likely operate in the manner of load management to best ease him back into the fold while his body adjusts to playing once again.
Clippers are not rushing Paul George
Over the first couple of weeks of the season, the Clippers have gotten off to a strong start, having won five out of their first seven games.
L.A. has stumbled twice against the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz, but there is much to be encouraged by their play on the court. They possess arguably the deepest team in the league, while Leonard has smoothly taken over as the primary offensive factor on the floor.
Their bench has remained arguably the best unit in the NBA behind strong play from reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. That has helped alleviate the amount of pressure on Leonard to carry the team offensively, especially with George still out of the mix.
There will be a bit of an adjustment period once the team has their two All-Stars on the floor together as they learn to play off each other. The Clippers are hoping that these two can be the leading factors on both ends of the floor that push them into title contention.
In the meantime, L.A. will continue towards building chemistry together and ramp up that process once George is back in the mix.