ESPN’s Arash Markazi is reporting that Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups are nearing their return to the Clippers lineup, possibly as early as Friday for their clash with the Miami Heat. If this is the case, it will be the first time the full starting lineup has played together since early December, a win over the Utah Jazz. Paul has not played since a home loss to Orlando on January 12th. After their latest loss to the Washington Wizards, the Clippers are now 5-6 during Paul’s absence.
Billups has been out with peroneal tendinitis in his left foot and has played only three games total this season.
Both Paul and Billups worked out with the team on Saturday and again on Monday and appear to be inching closer to a return as early as this week, possibly against the Miami Heat on Friday or the New York Knicks on Sunday.
“It’s a daily thing with them,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said on Sunday. “It’s a day-to-day thing right now. Chauncey is feeling better, Chris is feeling better, but there’s really no timetable. We want them back as soon as possible, but we have to protect them.”
Of course, the good news could be tempered by a recent hamstring strain suffered by Blake Griffin during the Clippers contest against the Boston Celtics. The extent of Blake’s injury, however, is unknown, though not expected to be serious. Griffin was a late scratch from the Clippers lineup against the Washington Wizards.