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Paul George uncertain about ability to return this season

Paul George didn't want to rule out playing in a game this season, but returning to practice in March is a more realistic goal at this time.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, Larry Bird revealed hope for a return of Pacers' injured star, Paul George to the court this season, with a best-case scenario of some time in March.

Today, Paul George calibrated those expectations with less hope and a more realistic view of what remains ahead for a return to action. George said, he and Bird discuss his situation quite a bit with the boss usually telling him how bad he looks on the court, so hearing him discuss a March return surprised PG a bit.

"I want to be back out there," George said. "I want to play...but again, it's not a likelihood at this point."

PG continued to answer this question (will he play this year?) in various ways but each answered about playing seemed to lean on a 'never say never' hope, as opposed to a true belief he will be able to play in a real NBA game.

He's still dealing with painful days. His latest MRI showed healing progress, but a big leg bone that was still healing. Until he is able to actually run up and down the court, projecting a return time is certainly premature.

Overall, Paul George sounded like a player who is just trying to get back to practice but has an elite athlete's drive which keep pushing his goal to return to game action. Practicing in full starting in March would be the first monster step toward a return, but playing, again, in a real NBA game, seems like an absolute long shot.

Along with the physical return, having a healthy leg and working his wind and play into game shape, there's also the mental return, requiring enough trust in his leg not to think about it and let his instincts move his body around the court.

"If I'm thinking about hurting myself, then I'll definitely sit out this whole year, without question," George affirmed.

Conrad Brunner was able to clarify PG's current mind set with regard to his potential return this season. "Just to make sure we're clear on where you stand in terms of playing this year," said Bruno. "Is it accurate to say, you remain hopeful, but you're not certain, you don't have a certainty about it."

"Absolutely," George responded.

So check back when PG is certain about his ability to return and then we'll see if he can get his game ready to return.