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April 25, 2019

Paul George

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Q. Paul, now that the season is over, has your shoulder been evaluated and do you know if there will be a procedure or anything along those lines?
PAUL GEORGE: Yeah, yeah, I'll address it pretty soon, try to nip it in the bud, get it right away.

Q. How much pain were you playing with throughout the Playoffs?
PAUL GEORGE: Not much. Not much at that point.

Q. Is it a labrum?
PAUL GEORGE: I'm not going to discuss what it is. Yeah, I'm not going to discuss what the actual injury is. But I will address it soon, try to get it fixed and get back out there come this next season.

Q. Is there a sense that there was a lot left on the table because you were injured? Is there that sense that you guys could have gone much further?
PAUL GEORGE: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think so. Fact of the matter is, injuries is part of the game. It's what goes on during the game. I don't got no excuses for it. I mean, I was out there and I was able to compete. You know, I was limited to a sense sometimes, but it didn't stop me from competing.

Q. When you start to step back and take a broader look at this team, making the Playoffs obviously again, but getting bounced again in the first round, what do you think needs to be better? What needs to change as you guys look to get further next year?
PAUL GEORGE: Honestly, I'm still trying to wrap my head around that, on what's the next step, the next phase for this group going forward. So you know, that's something I think we're all trying to work on internally, figure out like what can we do, because this is a team that can go far. We have pieces in place to have a long postseason reason. I am trying to figure out like what it is for this group.

Q. You changed so much about your off-season preparation last season; how much are you going to tweak that from last season to next season?
PAUL GEORGE: Well, it's going to be a little different, just with what I got dealing and what I got going on this summer. So I haven't had a plan yet to address how to prepare going into this next season. You know, we just finished playing, so I'm not there yet with a plan. I didn't expect to be done so suddenly. So still working on that.

Q. What do you like about what you all did collectively as a group this year?
PAUL GEORGE: I thought we showed a lot of great and positive things this year. I thought as a group -- just my time, again, being here for another season, one of the closest teams I've been a part of still. It's just a real brotherhood, where you enjoy going out there with those guys. I think that's a big positive going forward for this group is how close knitted we are.

Q. When you see the narrative about Russ, just who he is, how he interacts with people, some of it's negative out there. What is it about him that maybe the average person doesn't get or understand about Russ and who he is as a person from day-to-day?
PAUL GEORGE: I think Russ is honestly just as normal as anybody else. I think anything he does is just amplified, and you know, if anybody knows Russ on a personal level, you know that he's as real as it gets. He's 100 percent. He's as pure as a person that you can find. If you're watching him from afar, you might mistake that for him being a certain type of way.

But honestly, man, he's one of the best human beings I've ever been a part of. I had a choice and a decision to go anywhere I wanted to in my career, and I chose to come back here. I mean, come on, that says a lot on its own, what kind of person Russ is.

Q. Does Russell ever make you cringe a little bit because I hear what you're saying, but sometimes he doesn't do himself any favors it seems like when he deals with us or in certain places, but you know him better than that. Do you ever go, oh, Russ -- does he ever --
PAUL GEORGE: (Laughing) I just -- I mean, it's a tough position to be in because I know being around him, like I know where it's coming from. Like it just doesn't come off the right way. But I know where it's coming from. You know, he's a guy of principles. Everything is does is off principles. He's going to take care of himself and he's going to look out for himself, and that's what you've got to love about him, to be honest.

Q. When you look at this season and how it kind of shifted once you started dealing with the shoulder stuff, you're an MVP candidate, maybe the leader at that point, do you look back on it, are you disappointed, frustrated? How do you view how things kind of turned for you?
PAUL GEORGE: I just was frustrated. I think it came at a terrible time, especially the team was rolling. We was playing good. I was holding up pretty, pretty, pretty good. I just thought it came at the wrong time, honestly. But again, I've never made no excuses on it. I was dealing with it for a long time throughout the season. It just got worse and worse as it went on.

But it is what it is. Again, I'll say it again, injuries is part of the game. I've missed a season being hurt, so I was able to -- the training staff assured me I was fine to play through it, and I will be fine going forward. I'd had no other thought in my mind but to be out there and play and ride it out with my guys.

Q. When you say a long time, is that longer than the two months after you had sat out those three games?

Q. Since when?
PAUL GEORGE: I'm not going to say.

Q. You said you weren't expecting this first-round exit. Obviously when you came back you were expecting to go pretty far. How do you digest something like this?
PAUL GEORGE: It's tough. You know, I'm still thinking about the series. It still is not a good feeling for me. I felt, especially that last game, dame had an unbelievable Game 5, but I felt like we were starting to become ourselves again. We were playing fast. Our defense was starting to hold up. We were that athletic team again. The ball was moving. You know, I just felt we had an identity again, and we started to feel ourselves again. That was a pivotal game. I felt if we won that, you know, we definitely would have changed our momentum. We would have been right where we wanted to be, not down in the series but where we wanted to be in terms of how we were playing.

So I'm still digesting that. It's tough for us being done right now, and now we've got to think about what we could have and should have done better.

You know, got to let it go and move on, I guess.

Q. Is there a worry that your injury, how you've sustained an injury and the way you play, is there a worry that it could flare up again in future seasons, or is it kind of a freak accident the way it happened?
PAUL GEORGE: No, well, that's the reason I want to address it now. I could leave it alone and this would be a recurring thing. But I want to address it now, clean up what needs to be cleaned up so it doesn't come back. And I'll be fine going forward.

Q. Since you obviously know more about it than we do, do you anticipate being ready for preseason in the coming season?
PAUL GEORGE: I'm not sure. I'm not sure of the exact timetable on it. Again, we're still trying to put a plan together on how to address it, and you know, what needs to be done.

Q. One of the narratives of this season is you guys haven't shot the ball well enough. You were really good from three but not enough other guys were. What kind of a critical need is that do you think to address the shooting, whether you get somebody else or for you guys to get better?
PAUL GEORGE: Well, I mean, you just look at it, JG wasn't a high-value three-point shooter in his career. We asked him to shoot more threes this year, and he shot at a high percentage, but he'll get better with that now knowing that that's what we need from him. This is Ferguson's rookie season pretty much from playing and being on the court for a full season. He'll get better with shooting the ball. I mean, we'll get better with that, I think, as time goes on. That hopefully won't be an issue come next season.

Q. The first two thirds of the season before you started dealing with the shoulder, have you had any thoughts about maybe the game winners that you hit, that stretch of time there where you were really rolling, kind of what that felt like for you as a player to be at that level?
PAUL GEORGE: Yeah, I mean, it felt great, felt great just being in those moments, having opportunities to win games and put the game away on go-ahead baskets. It felt great. But again, I don't get into the whole stats of what I've made, what I've missed. I'm going to shoot it every time if I get a free enough look and feel confident in shooting it every time.

No, for the people that are about the statistics and the stats of that shot, it felt good to just bury them for them.

Q. You know what it takes to play high-level defense in this league. As the league has evolved with all this outside shooter, how much more difficult is it to play defense in the league now with everybody bombing it from so far?
PAUL GEORGE: Yeah, it's tough, and it's getting tougher. If the three-point line extends to 35 plus feet now, it gets tougher now because the floor is so spaced out. It's just hard to be in help spots, like it puts a lot of pressure on one-on-one defenders now, especially now that it's a tight whistle for touching, grabbing, holding. It's a tight whistle for any contact away from the basketball or away from the basket. So it puts just a lot more pressure on individuals to have to guard.

I think that's what's -- why teams are getting those three-and-D guys, because you can't really hide guys anymore like you could with two traditional post players on the floor. It's just a lot harder to hide guys. So it's a lot of ownership now that you've got to play defense and have to be a pretty good defender now.

Q. As you guys go back and watch or look back at how to play better down the stretch, are you one that will actually go back and watch the playoff series, or would you rather put it out of your mind --
PAUL GEORGE: Like watch our series or watch what's going on?

Q. Re-watch it --
PAUL GEORGE: I'll watch it. I'll watch it, yeah. I'll watch bits and pieces of it. I probably won't watch all the games for the full entire game, but I'll watch bits and pieces and kind of just see -- like I did that with the Utah series last year, of like what I could have done better, how I could have been a better player, because that was the last opportunity, last chance I had on the season. So I'll do that again with the Portland series, just watch stuff here and there just to see what improvements I should have did and could have made and go from there.

Q. So that's important --
PAUL GEORGE: It is. It is. It's the same as anybody going over their work. It's what my job is is to improve and get better. So I'll do it.

Q. It's your second year with Billy; what are your thoughts on his ability to coach, and do you appreciate or do you like the foundation or the core possibly for the future?
PAUL GEORGE: Yeah, I think we've got a good foundation. I think we've got a lot of great stuff accomplished, and we're going to continue to work and talk with Billy and figure out what's best for the team offensively, defensively. I think that's the best thing about Billy is he takes our input, and it's always an open dialogue, and he's open with coaching and adjustments.

It's great communication with Billy.

Q. We've talked plenty about Ferguson and his development throughout the season. What advice do you give a guy like him who's improved so much in season 2 to continue to do that in his third season?
PAUL GEORGE: I think same thing I had to approach and address going into like my third year. Third year for me was where I made the biggest jump from being a rotation guy to being a player. I think Ferg has to put pressure on Coach now to use him more, to use him in the offense. I think that's what you want out of your young guys is for them to put pressure on the coach to increase his -- whether it's offense, defense, increase his production out there. So he's got to have a big summer. He's got to work on a lot of stuff, work on just ball handling, pick-and-roll, shooting, defense, because this is a pivotal year for young guys, their third year. He's got to make a jump for us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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