Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul participated in a full-contact practice on Tuesday morning as the team readies for a two-game exhibition series against the Miami Heat in China, according to Eric Patten of NBA.com:
“It felt great (to practice),” Paul told Clippers.com. “I actually felt like I was part of the team. I was a little winded out there, but it felt good to get back out there and get in the mix. … I felt fine because I haven’t done anything for so long. I’m pretty well rested, so I was excited to get out there and play.”
Head coach Vinny Del Negro said that Paul played well but conceded that the All-Star point guard needs to get into better game condition. He hasn’t played since he injured his thumb this summer as a member of the U.S. mens Olympics basketball team and underwent surgery in August.
Though he is back at practice, Paul is reportedly not expected to play in Thursday’s exhibition game against the Heat in Beijing. It’s unclear whether he will suit-up for the game on Sunday in Shanghai, the Clippers’ last overseas exhibition game.
News of Paul’s return comes on the heels of positive news for the Clippers’ other veteran guard, Chauncey Billups, who had season-ending surgery in February to repair his Achilles tendon. Billups was cleared last week to participate in contact drills but is still considered improbable for the Clippers’ opening night of the regular season on Halloween against the Memphis Grizzlies.