Chauncey Billups goes through drills

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Clippers guard Chauncey Billups didn't anticipate he would be ready to return to the court until November when training camp started last week. But Billups participated in contact drills Thursday for the first time since he had season-ending surgery to repair a torn left Achilles tendon in February.

"Chauncey practiced a little bit more today, which was good," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He actually went through a couple of contact drills that we had. Not long, but more than in the past."

Billups, who this summer had hoped to be ready by opening night, is still a long shot to start on Oct. 31, when the Clippers open the season against the Memphis Grizzlies. But he could be back in the starting lineup soon after if he doesn't have any setbacks.

"He feels good," Del Negro said. "He's moving good. You can be in condition but the body contact and the up and down things, he's got to get in shape, but he's got plenty of time. As long as he keeps on, not having any setbacks and keeps on working, as he's been doing, he's going to be in good shape."

Billups has been working on the side during camp with Chris Paul, who underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb on Aug. 21. Paul said he's still on pace to start at least one preseason game before the season opener.

"I'm pretty close," Paul said. "The trainers let me know what the protocol is every day."

While he has been unable to participate in contact drills, Paul said working out with Billups has made going through practices easier for him.

"It makes it a lot easier because we both can't do any live action," Paul said. "We do 5-on-0 and all that different type stuff. It makes it a lot easier on me knowing I can shoot with him and work out with him."