Bird: Too early to speculate on George's return

Indianapolis, IN ( - Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird said the injury to guard Paul George was "extremely unfortunate" and added Saturday that it was too early to determine when the All-Star might return.

George suffered a compound fracture of his lower right leg during a scrimmage Friday night in Las Vegas, playing for USA Basketball in preparation for this summer's FIBA World Cup.

USA Basketball said George sustained an open tibia-fibula fracture and underwent surgery at a Las Vegas hospital. He is expected to remain hospitalized for approximately three days.

"Our first thoughts are with Paul and his family," said Bird in a statement Saturday morning. "It is way too early to speculate on his return as the No. 1 priority for everyone will be his recovery. Our initial discussions with our doctors and the doctors in Las Vegas have us very optimistic. We are hopeful at some point next week Paul will return to Indianapolis to continue his recovery."

George's right leg appeared to snap above the ankle as it jammed against the padded stanchion and the court beneath the basket after he jumped in an attempt to block a James Harden layup.

The scrimmage at the Thomas & Mack Center ended early in the fourth quarter after George was taken off the court on a stretcher.

George has been an All-Star each of the last two seasons for the Pacers. He has become Indiana's top player and has led the franchise to the Eastern Conference finals the last two years.

"There is no question about the impact on our team. but our goal is to be as strong-willed and determined as Paul will be in coming back," Bird added. "Our franchise has had setbacks in its history, but has demonstrated the abilities to recover. Paul will provide the example of that off the court and it is up to the rest of us to provide that example on the court. Any discussion regarding the future of our team would be inappropriate at this time. Our focus is solely on Paul and doing whatever we can to help.

"We still support USA Basketball and believe in the NBA's goals of exposing our game, our teams and players worldwide. This is an extremely unfortunate injury that occurred on a highly-visible stage, but could also have occurred anytime, anywhere."

George averaged 21.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 80 games this past season.