Chris Paul walked out to the Clippers’ practice court Saturday and stretched before he put on his practice jersey to get up some shots before practice started.
After practice was over, the team announced that Paul looked “great” in practice and that the All-Star guard would play Sunday night against the Philadelphia 76ers at Staples Center.
When the media met with Clippers Coach Doc Rivers before practice, he indicated there was a “50-50" chance that Paul would play against the 76ers.
But all that changed once Paul went through some contact drills with his teammates.
Rivers did say Paul would play in the NBA All-Star game Feb. 16 in New Orleans.
In the last couple of weeks, Paul had played some one on one with his teammates with contact. He has worked out before games, doing some shooting and running.
Paul sat out 18 consecutive games after he was injured Jan. 3 at Dallas.
The Clippers were 12-6 with Paul out and maintained their lead in the Pacific Division by holding a 31/2-game lead over the Golden State Warriors before Saturday night’s games.
With Paul having sat out about five weeks with his injury, there could be an adjustment period having him back on the court.
“I never thought I would hear that question, actually,” Blake Griffin said before practice. “But, yeah, it’s a great problem to add in the best playmaker, perhaps in the league, back to your team.”
Paul has said on many occasions that he wanted to play in the All-Star game.
By playing against the 76ers and against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, Paul will get in two regular-season games before the All-Star game.
“I like him playing in the All-Star game, personally,” Rivers said. “Whether he plays [Sunday] or plays the next game [Wednesday against Portland], I think this is a rare case where he’s ready to play and the All-Star game is probably the safest venue for him to play.”
Rivers said he thinks it’s going to take Paul “some time” to get adjusted to playing with his teammates again.
“I think it’s going to take Chris some time to get his rhythm back,” Rivers said. “So that’s why I’m hoping he is healthy and then we can play him Sunday, have a practice Tuesday and play him Wednesday. I think that’ll help. I think it’s going to take a couple of weeks for him to get his rhythm back. No doubt.”
Though Rivers said both J.J. Redick (sore right hip) and Hedo Turkoglu (bruised right knee) are day to day, it appears both are unlikely to play Sunday.
“I personally don’t expect J.J. tomorrow,” Rivers said. “But you never know. I know he told me yesterday [Friday] he was playing on Sunday. I had just watched him walk down the hallway leaving the arena [Friday night]. I don’t see him playing tomorrow. That’s just my opinion.”