George Will Likely Miss 2014-2015 Season; Pacers Support USA Basketball

08.02.14 5 years ago 5 Comments

A report by Yahoo’s Marc Spears says that Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George had a successful surgery and will likely miss the 2014-2015 season. Meanwhile, Pacers President Larry Bird released a statement concerning the injury that expressed support for USA Basketball amid growing sentiments that NBA players should he held out of international competition.

First, the most important news: George underwent successful surgery. And despite the grisly nature of his injury, he should be able to make a full recovery by 2015-2016.

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ESPN’s Dr. Mark Adickes offers insight on George’s road to recovery (Insider only). Barring major complication, Adicke’s says “the bone should heal within 4-5 months with a return to the court probable in 8-12 months.” As for when and how George will make his NBA return, Adickes conveys similar optimism, saying he “fully expect(s) George to be playing at an elite level by midseason [2015-2016] upon his return.”

This is a devastating injury – physically and emotionally. But should George exercise the commitment and desire during rehabilitation that’s turned him into one of basketball’s best players just a few years removed from total obscurity, he could conceivably back better than ever. Let’s just say that given George’s well-known work ethic, we think it’s a definite possibility.

It’s a relative concern compared to George’s health, of course, but the rippling effect of such a horrific injury has already begun to influence USA Basketball. Many in league circles – most notably Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban – have long decried the use of NBA players on the international stage due to the risk of this very circumstance. Franchises commit millions and millions on dollars to employees like George, and though Indiana is sure to recoup a portion of his salary through insurance, the toll his absence will take on the Pacers is huge – from competitive and financial perspectives.

Kevin Love opted against playing for Team USA this summer to presumptively avoid chance of injury given his “current status” as a potential trade centerpiece. Blake Griffin withdrew from consideration as well because of a small fracture in his back from which he suffered throughout the postseason. Though both players reportedly expressed overwhelming contrition while informing USA Basketball of their decisions, it’s clear the players understand the risk of injury that accompanies playing highly competitive basketball during the offseason. This isn’t just an ownership worry, basically.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that George’s injury could represent a seachange with regard to the NBA and national team play.

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ESPN’s Marc Stein gave further explanation, clarifying that rules would need to change before teams can place additional restrictions on their players wearing native colors during the summer.

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But considering the stance of front offices around the league in the wake of George’s injury, there’s a chance the rules could change. But it’s a double-edged sword for the NBA by itself. Globalization has fueled the league’s growth domestically and abroad, and its stars competing overseas in international competition continues to be a driving force behind its prosperity. The Dream Team started it all at the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992, and it’s continued through the 2012 Games in London and the upcoming, inaugural FIBA World Cup.

There’s just no right answer here. USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski, however, were sure to point out last night that George could have suffered his injury at anytime throughout the offseason. They’re right, of course, and the Pacers agreed with them in an updated statement by Bird that was released this morning.

“Our first thoughts are with Paul and his family. It is way too early to speculate on his return as the No. 1 priority for everyone will be his recovery. Our initial discussions with our doctors and the doctors in Las Vegas have us very optimistic. We are hopeful at some point next week Paul will return to Indianapolis to continue his recovery.

“There is no question about the impact on our team but our goal is to be as strong-willed and determined as Paul will be in coming back. Our franchise has had setbacks in its history but has demonstrated the abilities to recover. Paul will provide the example of that off the court and it is up to the rest of us to provide that example on the court. Any discussion regarding the future of our team would be inappropriate at this time. Our focus is solely on Paul and doing whatever we can to help.

”We still support USA Basketball and believe in the NBA’s goals of exposing our game, our teams and players worldwide. This is an extremely unfortunate injury that occurred on a highly-visible stage, but could also have occurred anytime, anywhere.

“Finally, the Pacers would like to thank our fans and the NBA community for their outreach of support in the brief amount of time since the injury occurred. It has been overwhelming and it is what makes Indiana and the NBA special.”

It seems callous for teams to use George as means to further political basketball aims so soon after the incident. But the NBA is a business first and foremost, and even the Pacers expressing support of the national program in the statement above is indicative of that often ugly reality.

Frankly, we – and the league’s players – are more concerned with George than any broader ramifications. We’re thrilled to hear that he’ll be able to make a full recovery.

What do you think?

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