Clippers’ Paul George out until November, but Kawhi Leonard says he’s healthy
Clippers players Kawhi Leonard and Paul George talk about the upcoming season.
When Landry Shamet looked around the gym this month during one of the Clippers’ offseason pickup games, the second-year guard was struck by the “crazy” amount of talent on the floor.
And that wasn’t even counting the MVP candidate watching from the sideline.
After undergoing offseason surgeries to repair a small labrum tear in his left shoulder and a partially torn tendon in his right shoulder, All-Star forward Paul George will continue his recovery this week during training camp in Hawaii. Declaring his health “pretty good” at Sunday‘s media day, George said he can take part in non-contact practice but will not be a full participant in situations in which his surgically repaired shoulders could be hurt.
“Nothing [full] contact, but all the five-on-oh stuff and all the scripted stuff I’ll be part of,” George said.
George is not expected to play any games in October and could be available by early to mid-November, according to a person with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak on the matter.
All-Star teammate Kawhi Leonard took part in many offseason workouts, a second person with knowledge of the workouts said. As such, Leonard on Sunday reiterated a belief he first made public in July — that his workload will be “different” than last season in Toronto, when he played only 60 regular-season games and led the Raptors to their first NBA title.
“Last year I was going in with an injury that I was dealing with the year before; it still was lingering and we knew I had to be healthy going throughout the season and making it to the playoffs,” Leonard said. “This year I’m feeling good and feeling way better than I was at the start of last season.”
For George, a long rehab is nothing new. He missed eight months after sustaining a compound fracture in his right leg during a Team USA scrimmage in 2014.
The Clippers had the most lethal bench in the NBA last season, led by the dynamic duo of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. It could be even better this season.
The experience taught him patience — and left him with optimism that he could regain his place among the NBA’s best players.
Since his return from that injury, George has earned four-consecutive All-Star honors. He became an MVP candidate last season in Oklahoma City by posting career-best averages in points (28.0), steals (2.2), rebounds (8.2) and free-throw attempts (5.9) per game.
“Having a drastic injury in my leg, I know what to expect and I know what pressure to put on myself and what pressure not to put on myself, as well,” George said. “That comes with a lot of stress when you’re going through rehab. I’m just in a good place. I know what I need to do. I know what I’m capable of.”
Even without taking part in the Clippers’ voluntary pickup games — which began this month and were described by second-year guard Jerome Robinson as “super intense” — George helped by being around teammates. Robinson mentioned a time when George took him aside and offered pointers.
“Sometimes, guys don’t have to do anything but just their presence in the room, you kind of feel it,” guard Rodney McGruder said. “You feel their support.”
Both George and Leonard indicated on Sunday strong interest in playing for Team USA at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo while adding their decision would hinge on health.
Coming off the second Finals MVP performance of his career, Leonard says his first priority is adding to his postseason accomplishments.
“Right now,” he said, “it’s getting the Clippers to the Finals.”
As the Clippers gather for media day Sunday, expectations of an NBA championship run and concerns build over Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the roster.
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