Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who has been sidelined since Jan. 3 with a separated right shoulder, said he hopes to be back on the court in time for the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 16 and would like to play in the game.
"If I can play, I'm going to play, I love to play that much," Paul said Wednesday. "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."
Paul had been the leading vote-getter to start at point guard for the Western Conference before his injury, but has since been passed by Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, who is expected to be named the starter.
The All-Star Game starters will be announced on Thursday, while the reserves will be announced on Jan. 30. Either way, Paul said he will be at the game after playing his first six seasons in the league with the New Orleans Hornets.
"Oh yeah, no question, I'll be there," Paul said. "I'll definitely be there."
When Paul was injured, the initial timeline for his return was six weeks, which would put his return around Feb. 14, which could mean Paul's first game back may be the All-Star Game.
"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."
Paul said he's making progress in his rehabilitation. He stayed in Los Angeles during the first half of the Clippers' two-week, seven-game road trip but joined the team in Charlotte before Wednesday's game against the Charlotte Bobcats.
"I feel better," Paul said. "I'm still trying to get the range of motion where I want it at. Right now, the only good thing about this thing is nothing happened to my legs so I've been able to do conditioning."
Paul said his right shoulder is "still in the healing process," but was happy to be back with the team after watching them on television for the past three games. The Clippers are 7-2 without Paul with their two losses coming to the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers on the second night of road back-to-backs.
"I think our defense is really getting a lot better," Paul said. "Blake [Griffin] has been unbelievable, D.J. [DeAndre Jordan], everybody. You watch the games and you're like, 'Do they even need me?' Seriously, it's been exciting. But the toughest thing was watching the past three games at home as I was rehabbing. I'm just happy to be back on the road with the fellas and be on the bench."