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Paul George addresses health, potential return date after first full practice with Clippers

Paul George, Clippers practice

LOS ANGELES – Paul George made his return to practice with the L.A. Clippers in a full capacity for the first time all season. Following offseason surgeries on both of his shoulders, the Clippers had been cautious in bringing George back too quickly.

So how did George come out of his highly-anticipated first practice with his new team?

“It was good,” said George. “It was good. I haven’t played five-on-five organized since May. I’m used to three-on-threes. The court was a lot smaller today having the full five-on-five. I think just catching a rhythm, finding my rhythm with a full 10 guys on the floor, I felt good, to say the least.”

Reports from earlier in the week suggested George could make his return within the next week, so his return to full practice participation was the first step towards that goal.

The six-time All-Star wouldn’t put a timetable on his return yet, citing a few things he still needs to work on before making his debut.

“Hopefully soon,” George responded on his return date. “I still got some stuff [to work on]. From a health standpoint, I feel great. But I think just rhythm, especially where these guys are at right now in their season, they’re flowing right now. So I just want to come in with an easy transition.”

By all accounts, George has looked ready to return to game action for several days. He’s been taking contact in a 3-on-3 setting for over a week. He’s been working to keep his conditioning in top shape. Today, he took full contact while playing in live, 5-on-5 scrimmages,

“He’s doing great,” said head coach Doc Rivers. “He practiced today. A lot of it was live today. He went through the whole practice, he looked great.

“We just let him go. We actually tried to take him past probably what he needed to go because it’s it’s more about the lungs. To me, is the most dangerous part of returning. It’s going to take time for conditioning.”

The Clippers have four games this week: Monday against the Toronto Raptors, Wednesday against the Houston Rockets, Thursday against the New Orleans Pelicans and Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks. Rivers said George ‘could’ return against the Raptors, but he doubts if he does.

Another game albeit on the bench isn’t necessarily a bad thing for George. Over the first nine games, George has been able to watch and learn his new team from the sideline perspective.

“They’ve looked good,” George stated with a smile. “They looked good. Again, this team’s been together — outside of myself, Kahwi, Moe, this team’s been here for a couple years now. So it’s myself that’s trying to be added to this, sprinkle myself into this. This has been a group for a while. They look great, they’ve been great since they’ve been together. I’m just trying to catch up to them.”

The Clippers will provide updates on George and his availability for Monday night’s matchup against the Toronto Raptors. The feeling is that he’ll take another few days to prepare for one of the games in the upcoming back-to-back set.

“I’ve been doing this since May. I’m tired of rehabbing. It sucks. But, I’m here for the long run, I’m here for the long haul. I know what the big picture is, so as much as I do want to get out here and wanted to practice and just get going, you know, it’ll just be jokes and stuff like that when they’re going and I’m trying to get out there and compete with them, it’s just jokes.

“I know the big picture and obviously, it’s for my own good that I wasn’t in these things early.”