First of all, some good news on Pacers small forward Paul George who was seriously hurt in the Team USA scrimmage on Friday night in Las Vegas. George, who suffered a gruesome right tibia-fibula fracture in the 4th quarter of the scrimmage, had successful surgery and reportedly will remain in the hospital for up to three days. His recovery time is estimated between 9-12 months.
While George was a shoe-in to make Team USA, and as bad as his injury is for him, it doesn’t hurt the chances of Team USA too much. Yes he would have played and contributed to the team, but there’s enough depth on the roster to overcome his injury and Team USA will still be considered the favorites to win the FIBA World Cup in Spain that tips off August 30th.
However the same can’t be said for the Indiana Pacers. This is an insurmountable blow to the Frank Vogel’s squad in the Eastern Conference. Losing your best player, an ALL-NBA 3rd team performer, who impacts the game at both ends of the floor, is a devastating to blow. The Pacers have nowhere near the depth that Team USA has and thus scratch them off the list of teams who had a chance to play for an NBA Championship during the 2014-15 season.
Right now the back-up to Paul George on the Pacers depth chart is a 30 year old, 2 year NBA player by the name of Chris Copeland who averaged 3.7 points per game last year. Add to that the Pacers didn’t resign Lance Stephenson or Evan Turner and Paul George is no longer there, and you can forget about the Pacers as a viable contender to win the East, let alone an NBA Championship.
No true competitor likes to gain an edge this way in sports, but injuries are part of the game and because of this serious leg injury to George and the Pacers, it elevates a number of team’s chances in the Eastern Conference. The two teams who benefit the most are Chicago and Cleveland.
With the Bulls getting back what looks to be a healthy Derrick Rose from what we saw early in that Team USA scrimmage and adding Pau Gasol to a playoff squad from a year ago, to me the Bulls are the favorites right now to win the East.
However, should G.M. David Griffin and the Cavs find a way to pull off a trade for double-double machine and All-Star Kevin Love to team up with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, I believe the Cavaliers become the favorites in the Eastern Conference.
My thoughts and prayers go out to Paul George. Here’s hoping for a complete and speedy recovery so he can be back on the floor playing for the Pacers during the 2015-16 season and for many years after that.