Paul George goes through first practice with Clippers since injury

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Paul George is getting closer and closer to a return to the Clippers.

George went through his first practice with the team since Christmas, when he suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

There is still no timetable for George’s return, but he is listed as out for Friday when the Clippers take on the 76ers. (Also of note for that game, James Harden is not on Philadelphia’s injury report despite hurting himself during the Lakers’ game Wednesday. He is expected to play.)

Here is what Tyronn Lue said of George, via Tomer Azarly of Clutch Points.

“We don’t know yet [about his return], but he is doing good,” Lue said of George. “Like I said, he hasn’t felt any pain, so that is a positive thing. Just working on his conditioning and just making sure he can continue to go through the minimal contact without having any issue. So as of right now, it hasn’t been a problem.”

If George is back for the playoffs, the Clippers will become a tougher out. He averaged 24.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game as the team’s focal point before his injury. In a playoff series, he can be the primary shot creator on offense while taking on a key defensive assignment.

The Clippers are all but officially locked into the No. 8 seed in the West, and will likely face the Timberwolves or Nuggets in the first play-in game. Lose that and the Clippers would host a second game against the winner of the 9/10 matchup, likely between the Lakers and Pelicans (although the Trail Blazers and Spurs could still get in the mix).

The Clippers absolutely should not push George to return — coming out of the play-in games and on the road through the postseason, the Clippers are longshots even if other key players return. There is no reason to risk aggravating an injury. However, if he’s fully healthy, George — a six-time All-NBA and four-time All-Defensive Team player — makes the Clippers significantly better.

Kawhi Leonard went through a “rigorous pregame workout that lasted for well over an hour” before Tuesday’s game, according to Chris Haynes of TNT. However, that was his first workout where any media could see him and the Clippers have given no timeline for a possible return. Norman Powell — out since Feb. 12 with a fractured medial sesamoid bone in his left foot — has been doing some on-court shooting but no contact drills yet.