Although the Pacers haven’t officially ruled out Paul George for the 2014/15 season, it’s been reported that the gruesome injury he suffered during last night’s Team USA scrimmage will likely sideline him for the entire year. The news is pfarticularly stinging since it further depletes a Pacers’ core that had already lost last season’s starting two guard, Lance Stephenson, to the Hornets in free agency.
Heading into 2013/14, the Pacers were considered realistic contenders for the Larry O’Brien Trophy, but Indiana fell to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals for a second-straight year. LeBron James‘ departure from Miami provided Pacers fans with hope that such a shuffling of power could alter the landscape of the East, potentially helping to propel Indiana toward a Finals appearance this season, but George’s unfortunate injury no doubt curbs such hopes.
No lineup that lacked both George and Stephenson logged more than 28 minutes per night for the Pacers in 2013/14 regular season, as Zach Lowe of Grantland observes (on Twitter). It’s going to be a completely different look for the team in the coming year, given that the duo of George and Stephenson averaged a combined 36.2 PPG for an Indiana team that ranked just 24th in nightly offense. The addition of Rodney Stuckey will give the team some much needed shooting, but he was never expected to carry the team in the scoring department.
Dr. Patrick Kersey, the doctor who treated Louisville guard Kevin Ware when he sustained a similar injury during the 2013 NCAA tournament, speculates that a full recovery from such an injury could take as long as 18 months, as W.G. Ramirez of The Associated Press details. While Indiana might be granted a disabled player exception that could help them bring aboard a player to fill in for George, it’ll be tough to match the production George has provided for the club over the last few seasons.
So what do you think? Can the Pacers put the pieces together and craft a 2014/15 playoff campaign in a weak Eastern Conference? Or will the loss of George put too much of a burden on a core that’s already been weakened by the loss of Stephenson? Vote below and weigh in with your thoughts!