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CHRIS PAUL SAYS HE’LL BE READY TO DEBUT
Thu, 27 Sep 2012 12:18 PM EDT

Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul went thru basketball drills without a protecting brace around his right thumb for the 1st time Monday, and asserted he foresees playing in 1 preseason game and being ready for the Clippers’ season opener Oct. 30 versus the Grizzlies.

“Today was the 1st day they really allowed me to shoot layups, so today was the best day ever,” Paul announced. “I hope I get a preseason game in before the season. I almost certainly have to start off the season wearing a brace, but I can wear the brace less and less. I wear it when I go to sleep, but I am on track. I’m going to rehabilitation every single morning at 6:30 a.m.”

Paul went through surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb last month after hurting it during Team USA’s training camp in Las Vegas back in July.

Paul already had to watch 2 of his colleagues — Chauncey Billups and Blake Griffin. Billups suffered a torn left Achilles tendon in February which has sidelined him for 9 months, while Griffin underwent arthroscopic surgery to patch up the medial meniscus tear of his left knee he suffered during Team USA’s training camp in Las Vegas.

“It was tough,” Paul said. “When Chauncey got hurt in Orlando last season, I was in tears. I was in the locker room in tears simply because I know how hard he works and how much he loves to play, and I also thought about the Olympics. And then when Blake got hurt, that actually ripped me down because I assumed it was going to be pretty special to have a colleague there. This season we might have discussed playing in the Olympics, but everything occurs for a good reason and I suspect Blake had a chance to rest up.”

When Paul started listing the names of the players the Clippers acquired in the offseason — starting with Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill, and more lately, Barnes, Ronny Turiaf, Ryan Hollins and Willie Green — a big grin came over his face.

“I just become excited thinking about it,” Paul said. “I don’t think I’ve been this excited going into a season in a long time. Not only from a basketball have aspect, but I love the guys. These are really great guys, and I am excited.” Baseball spreads

Paul said he also was touched that veterans such as Billups and Hill would essentially sign their last agreements with the Clippers and make the last run at a ring with him.

The Clippers’ offseason was upstaged in Los Angeles by the offseason of the L. A. Lakers, who managed to land Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Antawn Jamison. Paul, though, thought the Lakers’ additions were great for the city and the NBA.

Paul passed on a chance to sign a 3-year, $60 million extension with the Clippers this past summer but can sign a 5-year, $108 million extension next summer. He claimed he will wait until next summer to make a long-term commitment but claimed he loves Los Angeles and wants to win a championship with the Clippers.


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