Paul George purposely planning lighter All-Star schedule

When Paul George is up in Toronto for All-Star Weekend 2016, he plans to carry a lighter schedule during a weekend that is anything but a “break” for NBA players.

Paul George will play in his third All-Star game on Feb. 14 in Toronto. [Photo: Frank McGrath/PS&E]

Paul George will play in his third All-Star game on Feb. 14 in Toronto. [Photo: Frank McGrath/PS&E]

“I’m not doing any events,” George told VigilantSports.com this week. Previously, he has competed in the Slam Dunk Contest (2012, 2014), in addition to the Rising Stars Challenge (2012) and the All-Star Game (2013, 2014).

“Cut down on appearances and not much endorsement stuff around All-Star Weekend this year,” he said. “That’s a good thing. Get the rest, and really it’s about the game on Sunday.”

The Pacers (26-23) swingman was voted an All-Star starter for the second time. He received 711,595 fan votes, behind only LeBron James (Cavaliers) and Dwyane Wade (Heat) in the Eastern Conference. Carmelo Anthony (Knicks) and Kyle Lowry (Raptors) are the other two starters for the 65th annual All-Star Weekend, this year held in Toronto from February 12-14.

[PHOTOS: Paul George’s All-Star uniform and Nike shoes]

The decision to have less on his plate was a group decision between George and those with his best interest in mind, including his agent and partners.

“My partners kind of got the idea that this season has been a little rough and a little long so they’ve cooled down on everything and let this weekend just be about the game,” George said. “I got a couple of endorsement stuff [planned] but not too many.”

[PG’s sponsors welcome him back]

Paul George and Jim Nantz featured in a Papa John's commercial with John Schnatter last year.

Paul George and Jim Nantz featured in a Papa John’s commercial with John Schnatter last year.

George has deals with Nike, Gatorade, Papa John’s, NBA 2K, New Era Caps, and AT&T, for example.

In previous years, including last All-Star Weekend in New York when he was still rehabbing, George’s calendar was packed. Several pages long. Between practice, media sessions, an autograph signing, and endorsement appearances, George was tied up all weekend. And that meant little time for him to take advantage of the break between Pacers games.

But he doesn’t want that to be the case next weekend.

Playing in his first full season since that night we’ll never forget — Aug., 1, 2014 — when he broke his right leg, George is worn down and in need of some time off. He and Monta Ellis are the only two Pacers players to have played in all 49 games and George is the team’s top offensive player, averaging 23.1 points per game.

George has admitted that he’s “hit a wall.” Those watching can see how he hasn’t been in All-Star form yet in 2016. After being named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for November — he shot 47.5 percent and averaged 29.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game — his numbers have dropped considerably to 21.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game.

In November, he shot 49 percent from range. In January, the number dipped all the way down to 32.7 percent … which suggests tired legs.

Pacers coach Frank Vogel sees it and is working with the training staff to keep him as fresh as possible for the rest of the season.

“We’re keeping a close eye on that because that’s a real, a real thing that we have to keep a close eye on,” Vogel said. “He’s talking about his legs being heavy and having missed an entire year and having his leg rebuilt, it’s something that we’re communicating regularly with the trainers on.

“It definitely is something that is limiting him right now and limiting us.”

[On two days rest this season, George is shooting 44 percent from the field and 45.8 percent from outside. But that number falls based on rest — down to 40.1 percent from the field on just one day day and 38 percent with no days rest.]

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