Known for his toughness and desire to play every minute possible, Chris Paul has said he hopes to play in next month’s All-Star Game in New Orleans.
The Los Angeles Clippers point guard and top NBA assist man has been sidelined for the last nine games with a separated right shoulder sustained in Jan.3’s victory over Dallas, with his squad going 6-3 in his absence. The Clippers have also gone 2-2 on their current seven-game road trip, including Wednesday’s loss to Charlotte.
One of the top vote getters and expected to start in the Western Conference’s backcourt on Feb. 16, Paul said he hopes to play for the New Orleans fans that encouraged him early in his career.
"If I can play, I'm going to play, I love to play that much," Paul said Wednesday according to ESPN LA. "The All-Star Game is in New Orleans and that's part of me. That's where I played my very first All-Star Game at. Anytime you have that opportunity, I'm not going to pass that up because it's not guaranteed to happen next year."
The 28-year-old was selected fourth overall by New Orleans back in 2005, spending his first six seasons in the league earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star appearances, and guiding the franchise to its only playoff series victory in the last 12 years.
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Paul was originally expected to be out for a minimum of six weeks, which would put him on schedule to appear in the All-Star game, but the Clippers are also gunning for a top playoff spot and need Paul healthy for the final stretch of the regular season.
"I think the goal is to make sure I get healthy," Paul said. "Everybody knows how eager I am to get back and play and stuff like that, but at the end of the day you have to look at the big picture. When I'm ready, you'll know."
If not healed or cleared by team doctors for the All-Star Game, Paul could make his return after the break on Feb. 18 in a home showdown against San Antonio.
With Paul going down, head coach Doc Rivers and L.A. general manager Gary Sacks must be thankful for their offseason acquisitions of guards Darren Collison and J.J. Redick. In the last 10 games, Collison’s averaged 14.1 points and 6.2 assists with a 1.5 steals per, though he’s now listed as day-to-day after going down with a toe injury against Charlotte.
After the game, Rivers said he was thinking of “sitting” Collison, but the Clippers only have second-year point guard Darius Morris to rely on, with his second 10-day contract set to expire after Saturday’s game against Toronto, according to the L.A. Times.
Acquired from Milwaukee in a huge three-team trade, Redick’s notched 17.8 points in his last 10 games and exploded for a season-high 33 points in a 17-point fourth quarterback comeback against Dallas last week.