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Monday, June 21, 2010
Paul anxious to play for new coach

Associated Press

DAVIDSON, N.C. -- Coming off what he calls "the longest stretch of my career," New Orleans guard Chris Paul is making slow progress in his rehabilitation from numerous injuries and is eager to play for new Hornets coach Monty Williams.

His summer plans, including playing for the United States in the world championships, remain far from certain.

Chatting briefly from a cart before playing in a celebrity golf tournament in his home state on Monday, Paul glanced a couple times at his surgically repaired left knee and said he's still been unable to get on the floor because of injuries that kept him out of 37 games last season.

That would leave little time for the three-time All-Star to get ready to play for the U.S. in Turkey on Aug. 28-Sept. 12.

"I'm still getting there. I'm still doing rehab and stuff like that so I can get to 125 percent," Paul said. "I'm excited about getting healthy. It's like I'm starting over almost."

Paul suffered a sprained left ankle in November, then underwent surgery in January to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He sat out the final four games of the season with a torn ligament in his right middle finger.

Paul averaged 18.7 points and 10.7 assists in 45 games.

"It was really tough. Really tough dealing with the injuries, not making the playoffs," Paul said. "This has definitely been the longest stretch of my career, easily."

After going 37-45 last season, the Hornets gave the 38-year-old Williams his first coaching job earlier this month. He'll be charged with trying to get New Orleans back in the playoffs after a two-year streak was snapped.

"Great guy. I've talked to Coach already," Paul said. "He's excited, I'm excited about him coming in. He's a basketball junkie."

Paul's injuries and the Hornets' struggles in getting newly acquired center Emeka Okafor integrated in the offense soured a season that saw coach Byron Scott fired.

"Mek was good for us. Mek's a hard worker and different things like that," Paul said. "It was our first year together, so there was a lot of stuff that didn't always work out. But that's what this year is for. Now we don't have the excuse that it's our first year working together."

While Paul seemed intrigued by the NBA's big free agency class and claiming "there's definitely going to be some changes" this summer, he'll be focused on getting completely healthy for the first time in about a year.

"It's a day to day thing," Paul said. "I'm just trying to realize that it's a marathon, not a sprint. So as much as I want to get out there on the court, I have to hold myself back."