Paul George goes through first official practice of the season, says he sees ‘the old PG coming back’

The signs of a full recovery are there for Paul George.

He’s back talking with the media. (He’s not required to do so while sidelined.)

He’s no longer is thinking if he will return — but when.

He has impressed teammates with what he’s been able to do, both in shooting drills and in practice.

And, as a bonus, he put on strength in the weight room. Maybe 10-15 pounds, he says.

Those reasons, and more, have the face of the Pacers smiling a lot recently. Thursday, he participated in all of practice for the first time this season.

“I felt good,” he said. “I felt really good.

“To be able to go through a full practice now, and go up and down, it’s a big step for me,”

Paul George is content with where he’s at, and motivated to return before season’s end.

Despite a strong first practice, three days ahead of schedule, George stayed away from any timeline for his debut.

As he spoke in front of two dozen media members on the practice court of Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Thursday, he gave thoughtful answers that suggest he’s doing great, in a little bit of pain (not unexpected), and that he’s on quest to take part in game action this season.

Another two weeks, perhaps in mid-March, at the earliest.

“Long ways away, still got to steps to overcome but that’s still a goal of mine,” he said.

Added coach Frank Vogel: “He’s got a long road. He’s come a long way but he’s got a long ways to go still. It’s going to be a matter of just trying to increase that activity.”

As Paul has practiced, he admittedly is dealing with pain and soreness in that right leg. It’s nothing, however, that is keeping him out, he said. He is due to go in for another MRI that would make it clear that the leg, where he broke both his tibia and fibula bones, were completely healed.

During practice, he says he has not been hesitant or overthinking about the leg.

“I see the strides coming and I see the old PG coming back,” George said.

And that’s great news. The biggest thing moving forward for George will be getting adjusted to being back on the floor and reacting to whatever may come his way unexpectedly. Adapting on the fly.

“I feel like I passed pretty much of the tests as far as jumping, running, landing on it, cutting off of it,” George, 24, explained. “I feel like I’ve done everything that would make me feel comfortable. I think the last part is just having that explosiveness in it and being able to react.”

“It’s going to be probably a few weeks beyond the time that he’s cleared before he’s in game shape, rhythm and timing, just all the movements that he’s got to learn to trust again,” Vogel said.

“Paul’s not going to be back out there unless he’s close to being Paul George.”

George was asked if, while in his hospital bed out of surgery back in August, he saw himself returning this soon.

Paul talks with the media following his first full practice of the season.

“I thought it was going to be a lot sooner,” he joked, and then continued.

“To get here, August 1st after it happened, I didn’t think I’d be where I’m at right now up to this point. I think anybody would if you seen what I saw. I’m happy to be at this point, I’m happy to be practicing again. Just running gives me a smile. I’m happy right now.”

For one, that’s important. Long ago he came to peace with the gruesome injury and that this adversity was the path for him. He says the game has slowed down as he has been force to watch from the sideline, and that there’s no way, after this injury, that he can take the game for granted.

Remember, this was his first injury as an athlete.

The last step in his recovery will be receiving final clearance from the team’s medical staff — team physician Dr. Tim Hupfer, and trainers Josh Corbeil and Carl Eaton. George will have input, but he knows the team’s excellent staff will have the final say in when he first suit up and makes his debut at PG-13.

Until then, spirits around the team have been elevated with news surrounding George’s return more when, rather than if, and because they’ve won six of their past eight games. They are currently tied with Detroit (23-34) for 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings, just one game out of the eight and final playoff spot.

Next up: The Cleveland Cavaliers (36-22, third), who have won three straight games and five of six.

“I’ve got LeBron tomorrow,” he joked to open his interview with reporters.

Not yet, Paul. But soon enough.

More Paul George Coverage:

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.