Paul George made a return to practice with the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, a few days ahead of schedule after breaking his right leg in a freak accident last summer during a U.S. national team scrimmage.
The two-time All-Star forward and Pacers officials had been hopeful for a March 1 return after his lower right leg was broken when he landed awkwardly against the base of the basket-support stanchion after he attempted to block a breakaway layup by James Harden on Aug. 1.
“Things are looking good,” George told reporters Thursday. “After it happened, I didn't think I'd be at this point right now, but I'm happy to be at this point now.”
George, who played two seasons at Fresno State, averaged a team-best 21.7 points as well as 6.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists a game last season for the Pacers.
Pacers Coach Frank Vogel said George's return this season appears imminent, but not before he's in proper condition.
George told reporters that he had passed several running, jumping and agility tests before returning to practice. He also said there is sometimes general soreness in the leg that will need to be monitored.
"Paul is not going to be out there unless he's Paul George," Vogel said. "He's eager to get back on the court, but not before he's ready. Once he's mentally cleared to play in a game, he's still got to be ready to play in a game."
Although the Pacers, with a record of 23-34, have struggled early this season, they still have a shot at the playoffs, with two sub-.500 teams occupying the last two playoff sports in the Eastern Conference. Indiana is only one game behind Brooklyn and Charlotte, who are both 23-32. The Pacers have also won seven of their last 10 games.