He can’t say when—or even if it will be this season. But as Pacers star Paul George continues to heal from a broken leg, there is one thing he’s clear about: He wants to play.
“It’s extremely difficult,” George said while addressing the media at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Thursday. “This is what I love to do. And to not be able to do it, it’s tough. And especially us going through this stretch where we’re struggling, and this team is just not where we want to be right now. And me not being a part of that—it hurts.”
Head coach Frank Vogel said George has been a contributor despite the injury, chipping in as a helpful, engaged teammate all season. The silver lining, Vogel added, is that in George’s absence, other guys have been able to step up, grow up, and develop.
There’s even a silver lining for Paul George, who said he’s grown as a player while watching court-side and is now able to see the game like never before.
“I watched it from a coach standpoint,” said George. “I’m almost like a fourth assistant out there, just giving my insight on what I see. It’s a lot of stuff that I didn’t recognize when I was playing that I see now and study now. I’ve grown so much. And I’m excited when my day comes to put everything together.”
As that day draws nearer, George said he doesn’t worry about re-injuring his leg, but that if he did, he would take it as a sign that he’s not ready. When the time is right, the decision to play will be collective.
George said the upside of returning this season would be going into the summer with confidence and having something to build on. But, in the short term, he could also bring some “fire power” to the team and help the Pacers “make some noise” in the NBA playoffs. That remains his goal.
“I know it’s not a likelihood at this point, but I’m definitely pushing and working hard to make it possible,” he said.
Photos by Heather Lloyd Indy sports nut Heather Lloyd weighs in on all things Pacers and Colts on her blog, The Blue Mare.