Indiana Pacers forward Paul George underwent successful surgery for a gruesome right leg injury he suffered during a Team USA scrimmage Friday in Las Vegas.
Now the two-time All-Star’s status for next season appears in jeopardy. Sources told ESPN that while there has been no official prognosis, it appears likely that George will miss the entire 2014-15 season.
The 24-year-old budding star suffered an open tibia-fibula fracture while attempting to block a layup by guard James Harden with 9:33 left in fourth quarter, USA Basketball said. George landed awkwardly at the base of the backboard stanchion and his leg snapped.
With teammates looking on in disbelief and worried for their friend, George was treated by trainers for about 10 minutes and was taken to the hospital. He’s expected to be hospitalized for three days. George was expected to make the 12-man Team USA Roster, and help guide the squad in the FIBA World Cup.
Despite experiencing such a devastating injury, George took to Twitter and was optimistic.
Thanks everybody for the love and support.. I'll be ok and be back better than ever!!! Love y'all!! #YoungTrece
â€” Paul George (@Paul_George24) August 2, 2014
The rest of the game was cancelled after George was taken off the court. None of his Team USA teammates spoke to the media afterward, but USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo talked about what the injury means to the program and George.
“This is a very tough blow, not so much about us, but about Paul (George),” Colangelo said. “It’s a first for us in USA Basketball to have something like this take place. It’s a tough situation for our entire organization, our coaches, our players, very, very emotional. There’s no way the game could have gone on under the circumstances, and so I want to save some questions, which are really addressing what our plans were and what our plans are. We need to just take a step back before we do anything at all. Our first concern, our primary concern is Paul George.”
The Pacers also released a statement after learning of the injury.
"We are aware of the injury sustained by Paul George in Friday night's Team USA game in Las Vegas and we are obviously greatly concerned," president of basketball operations Larry Bird said. "At this time our thoughts and prayers are with Paul. We are still gathering details and will have an updated statement Saturday."
Selected No. 10 overall in the 2010 draft by Indiana, George has become the Pacers best all-around player and leader. He’s coming off the best season of his four-year career, averaging 21.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists. George led the team in scoring and steals (1.9), and his contribution on both sides of the floor team can’t be matched by any other Pacer. As a result the Pacers invested heavily in George’s future. Indiana signed George to a five-year, $91.7 million maximum contract extension before last season, and he was expected to guide the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals for the third straight year.
At this point it’s unclear who will fill in for George. Veteran Chris Copeland and second-year forward Solomon Hill are behind George on Indiana’s depth chart. The former is known as more of scorer and outside shooter, but lacks on the defensive end. Hill averaged 8.1 minutes in 28 games last season, notching 1.7 points and 1.5 rebounds in his rookie year.
The Pacers lost guard and third leading scorer Lance Stephenson to the Charlotte Bobcats during free agency, and much of the scoring load will likely fall to power forward David West, center Roy Hibbert and point guard George Hill if George misses the entire season. West was second on the team with 14 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, and Hibbert averaged 10.8 points, his lowest scoring output since his rookie season.