Paul George heals while Pacers make plans without him

Pacers Coach Frank Vogel with Pacers President Larry Bird
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The Indiana Pacers have not ruled out a return this season for Paul George, but they do not expect him to play in 2014-15.

Head coach Frank Vogel and team president Larry Bird provided an update on George's condition Tuesday in a news conference at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers NBA All-Star forward broke his lower right leg in a gruesome fall on August 1st while playing in a Team USA scrimmage in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Bird was watching the game on television that night.

"You really worry about the young man,” said Bird. “You guys know Paul as well as I do. He's a great young man. He cares. He works very hard. He cares about the city, the franchise. It's just unfortunate, very unfortunate."

George returned to Indianapolis a week ago. A full recovery is expected. His leg is in a splint, not a hard cast. He is getting around on crutches. Vogel visited George at home and says the 24-year-old is in good spirits given the long road to recovery ahead of him.

"We would never put him in a position that he didn't feel comfortable," Bird said.

With Lance Stephenson signing with the Charlotte Hornets in free agency, the Pacers have lost two starters this summer. Some fans may have already written off the Pacers this season, but Vogel says just wait and see.

"We've got a winning culture here, an approach that comes to bring it every single night, be the hardest playing team in the NBA,” said Vogel. “I think we are going to surprise some teams. I think those fans who think the season is over before it started are very wrong."

"My goal is to win as many games as we possibly can and get in the playoffs,” said Bird. “I know some of our fans would rather us go a different direction, but we're here to win. We're going to try to win."

The Pacers have met with, and offered a contract, to veteran forward Shawn Marion. The 36-year-old Marion has played the last five seasons in Dallas. He averaged 10 points and six points for the Mavericks last season. The team has also applied to the NBA for a disabled player exemption that would give them another five million dollars in salary cap room.

"We're not going to replace Paul,” said Bird. “You just can't replace Paul George. Is our expectation lowered any? I don't think so. I think that we're going to compete hard. We're going to do our best to make the playoffs. That's always one of our goals and to just compete on a consistent basis. I can sit up here and try to sugar coat it all you want me to, but you just can't replace Paul George."

Bird also announced Tuesday the Pacers had picked up the team option on point guard Donald Sloan's contract for this season.

"We've got a lot of options and I'm excited to see how it's going to turn out," Vogel said.

Bird added that the Pacers franchise is always thinking about the future.

"We're always trying to look 2-3 years down the road," he said. "Whatever happens, we'll be competitive. We know that."