After winning the summer by signing Kawhi Leonard in free agency and trading for Paul George, the Los Angeles Clippers are the favorites to win the 2020 NBA title. They probably won’t look like it to start the season, however, because they’ll be without George for the early portion of their schedule as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.
On Saturday, Doc Rivers told reporters that George “is not going to be here for the first 10” games, which would put him out until the middle of November. That coincides with whatin the offseason, when he said, “I’ll be out of October fully, but who knows? We’ll see. In the November range is our target date.”
George was in the midst of a career year last season with the Thunder until he injured his right shoulder in February. He still put up fantastic numbers, averaging 28 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.2 steals per game, and finished third in MVP voting behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden, but he wasn’t himself down the stretch.
Once the Thunder were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round, he underwent surgery on his right rotator cuff. A short time later, he opted to fix his left shoulder as well, and had his labrum repaired. The second surgery didn’t effect his recovery time.
With George unable to fully participate in training camp, and now set to miss the first 10 games, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Clippers don’t look dominant right away. Their early schedule is no joke, with George set to miss games against the Lakers, Warriors, Jazz, Spurs, Jazz again, Bucks, Trail Blazers and Raptors.
Playing those elite teams without George, while also trying to get comfortable with the addition of Leonard and dealing with the added pressure of being a contender won’t be easy. With Leonard and much of the core that made the playoffs last season they’ll still be a very good team, it just will be a work in progress over the first month-plus. That’s the case any time a team adds multiple stars, and George’s injury will unfortunately only extend that timeline.