Paul George was unsure his body would allow him to vie for a spot on Team USA after the grind of the NBA season, but with the Summer Olympics two months away, he says he is going to give it "a shot."
The 26-year-old Indiana Pacers All-Star guard/forward, who suffered a gruesome right leg injury in a Team USA scrimmage two years ago, explained his mindset in an interview with ESPN's Cari Champion this week. The interview is scheduled to air Monday on the noon SportsCenter.
"I was just hesitant on the simple fact that, the past couple years has obviously been tough for me -- just felt like I didn't have enough time to myself, and time to recover, and you know, give my body a rest. I didn't want to jump out of a season, jump right into the Olympics. But I think I kind of said that too prematurely.
"I didn't give myself enough time to really think it through. I think since I've been off, my body's telling me yes, my mind is telling me yes, people around me are telling me yes. So I feel good about it. And, you know ... I want to give it a shot."
On Aug. 2, 2014, George ran into a basketball stanchion during the scrimmage in Las Vegas and suffered an open tibia-fibula fracture. He said before the 2014-15 season that he would like to play in the Rio Olympics, but during this season he told reporters he would have to see how his body responded to a full slate of games and the playoffs before knowing whether he could give his Olympic dream a shot.
USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo told NBA.com at the 2014 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement that he would keep a spot open on the team for George.
"We thought it's the right thing to do. That's it. ... We didn't give thought to all the detail," he told NBA.com. "Just that when a guy goes down and all these things, the circumstances, his career passes before him, he's out for a year, a year-plus, he's not able to participate now with us -- we wanted to throw that out and say, 'We're counting on you. You've got a spot in '16.'"
George was one of 31 finalists named for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team in January. Colangelo said in March that he planned to unveil the 12-man Olympic roster in late June.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff will hold a four-day training camp in Las Vegas from July 18 through 21, and then the team will play five exhibition games, starting July 22 against Argentina and ending on Aug. 1 against Nigeria. The Olympic basketball tournament will take place Aug. 6-21 in Rio de Janeiro.
George missed 76 games during the 2014-15 season before making his season debut April 5. In 2015-16 he missed just one game and posted a career-best 23.1 points per game. He also scored 41 points in this season's All-Star Game, finishing one point shy of Wilt Chamberlain's All-Star Game record.