LOS ANGELES — LA Clippers star Paul George avoided torn ligaments in his sprained right knee and is not expected to require surgery.
While George will miss the rest of the regular season and won’t be evaluated again for two to three weeks, the Clippers are relieved he didn’t suffer a more serious injury when he landed awkwardly after colliding with his knee at Oklahoma. City’s Lu Dort in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s 101-100 loss to the Thunder.
“He was a little disappointed, as expected,” said coach Ty Lue before the Clippers faced the Thunder again Thursday night. “But I think we got the best case scenario as far as what we thought could happen. And so, the re-examination in two, three weeks is something we’re looking forward to.”
George will need his knee to heal before being re-evaluated. Once he feels his knee is strong, he will need time to work his way up if he is to return this postseason. The Clippers entered Thursday night’s game against Oklahoma City in fifth place in the Western Conference standings. However, they are also only one and a half games out of seventh place and the play-in tournament.
If the Clippers clinch a playoff berth, George’s potential return in the first round is considered optimistic.
“His spirits are down,” Lue said. “But that’s to be expected when it’s late in the season and when you want to help your team. But we’ll support him 100%.”
Lue said the Clippers will start guard Eric Gordon in place of George for the rest of the season.
Then again, the Clippers will have to try to win without one of their stars at the most important time of the season. Kawhi Leonard tore his right ACL in Game 4 of the second round against Utah in the 2021 playoffs. The Clippers still made it to the Western Conference finals before falling to Phoenix.
Last season, with Leonard out for the year, George had to sit out the second play-in game, a loss at New Orleans, because he tested positive for COVID-19. That came after George returned from a three-month absence due to a torn ligament in his elbow.
“Oh, we’re ready,” Lue said of the Clippers playing without a star. “We did it last year, too. He played 32 games last year, so that’s the next mentality. I know you hear it all the time, but we’re definitely up for the challenge. And we’ve got a lot of guys in the locker room and we’re excited for the challenge.”