Folks, it’s finally happening. Chris Haynes of Yahoo reported on Tuesday morning that Paul George will make his Clippers debut when the team takes on the Pelicans in New Orleans on Thursday. Shortly before Haynes’ confirmation, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said that PG would play in either Wednesday’s game in Houston or Thursday’s in the Big Easy.
George has missed the first chunk of the season after undergoing a pair of shoulder procedures over the summer. The 6-time All-Star averaged a career-high 28 points per game last season along with 8.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists. He was playing the best basketball of his career before a shoulder issue started to plague him about halfway through last season. His shooting numbers tumbled as a result, but he still helped give the Thunder a puncher’s chance in their first-round loss to the Blazers in the playoffs.
George was shockingly traded to the Clippers on July 10 in the blockbuster deal that sent Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and a bounty of picks to Oklahoma City. In the summer of 2018, George re-signed with the Thunder on a 4-year deal worth nearly $140 million. He has another full season after this one left on his contract, plus a player option worth about $37 million for the 2021-22 campaign.
We’ll see if George is joined on the floor Thursday by Kawhi Leonard and/or Landry Shamet. That game is the second half of a back-to-back, and the Clippers haven’t yet announced which game Kawhi will miss in order to keep up with his load management plan. Shamet is reportedly undergoing an MRI today on his ankle after leaving in the second half of last night’s win over the Raptors. Doc Rivers said after the game that it was an ankle sprain of some sort, though we’ll learn the extent of the damage at some point today.
Both of the Clips’ upcoming opponent have some injury issues of their own. The Rockets will be without Eric Gordon as the former Clipper is set to miss the next month after undergoing a knee procedure on Tuesday. Lonzo Ball will likely miss Thursday’s game for New Orleans as he continues to deal with a groin issue, while Brandon Ingram is questionable with a knee injury after missing the Pels’ loss on Monday against Houston. Zion Williamson is still out after undergoing his own knee procedure right before the beginning of the season.