PAUL EAGER FOR SEASON TO START
PLAYA VISTA–Chris Paul seemed anxious as he watched a 5-on-5 pickup game near the edge of the practice court Thursday at the Clippers Training Facility.
Relegated to the role of onlooker, he stood on the sideline in the left baseline corner with several of his teammates and a number of other NBA veterans racing up and down the floor. He stared in a way that explained how desperately he wished to join them.
It’s been nearly a month since Paul underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, and it was clear sitting things out was not sitting well with him.
“The thumb's doing better, a lot better,” he said. “I’m still a few weeks out from being ready to play and stuff like that, but I go to rehab every day trying to get back because I’m tired of watching these guys play.”
Among other things, Paul is eager to see how the revamped Clippers gel after an offseason that netted Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford, and Grant Hill, among others.
“I’m excited about this season,” Paul said. “Our locker room is filled with a lot of veterans and guys that know what it takes to win.
“It starts with training camp. Fortunately, we have a great group of guys and fortunately they got here early, extra early, and guys have been in for workouts and getting to know each other as well as you can.”
Several Clippers players have been in town throughout the summer, and most of the other members of the 15-man roster have arrived this week to get a head start on their first official practice Sept. 29.
Paul, who is entering year two with the Clippers, has been at the facility regularly following what was eventful offseason. His wife, Jada, gave birth to the couple’s second child in August, five days after he captured his second Olympic gold medal with Team USA in London.
He also acted as the Clippers’ lead recruiter, urging Chauncey Billups to re-sign and helping bring in the likes of Odom, Crawford, and the recently added Matt Barnes.
Evident by their early arrival, there’s a sense that the 2012-13 Clippers are making inroads to being closer than last season’s tight-knit group that advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals for just the second time since moving to Los Angeles in 1984. Paul seems to think so at least.
“That’s what’s fun about being here with our team because we genuinely like each other,” he said. “I think this team has the opportunity to be the same way [as last season], and hopefully we can just go a little further.”