- Arash Markazi, ESPN Staff Writer
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PLAYA VISTA, Calif. – Los Angeles Clippers guard Chauncey Billups, more than seven months removed from season-ending surgery to repair his torn left Achilles tendon, said on Friday he doesn't anticipate he will be ready to play when the season opens up next month.
"I wish I could play opening night," Billups said. "I wish I could but I know that's not really going to happen, I'm sure. I don't really have a target. I'm just going to listen to my body. I remember people were saying January or February and that's way out of the question. That's definitely not going to happen. I'll be back way before that."
Billups' new timetable will be closer to November or December, meaning he will at least miss the Clippers' season opener against the Memphis Grizzlies on Oct. 31. It had been Billups' goal before the season to be on the court for that game and play 82 games this season.
"The depth actually gives me a little sense of relief and allows me to take my time and come back when I'm really ready because we have such great depth," Billups said. "This is going to be the deepest team I've ever played for. As far as just being deep all the way throughout, it's the deepest team I've ever played for."
While Billups will be unable to play in a game until November at the earliest, he will be back on the court with his teammates for the first time since he ruptured his Achilles on Feb. 6 in Orlando when the Clippers' camp officially begins up on Saturday. He was cleared by team doctors to take part in limited team drills.
"I'll be on the court when camp opens up but I'm not released yet to play five-on-five," Billups said. "We'll see when that's going to happen. Just being out there with the guys is going to be good for me. I'm in shape and I feel good but I'm not in basketball shape yet because I haven't played basketball. That's going to take me a little time but I'm not really in a rush to be honest with you. I'm going to listen to my body and when it tells me to get back out there, that's when I'll be back out there.
Billups, who averaged 14.9 points and 4.0 assists in 20 starts for the Clippers last season, will be joined in the backcourt on Saturday by Chris Paul, who also will be limited during training camp.
Paul, who underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb on Aug. 21, has been cleared for non-contact practice and is expected to be cleared for full-contact practice within the next two weeks.
"I cannot wait to be back on the court with (Billups)," Paul said. "When I got back from the Olympics, I came here to the gym and I saw Chauncey in here working out. Before I left, he was just standstill shooting and now he's running and ready to go."
Paul reiterated what he told ESPNLosAngeles.com earlier this week, saying he plans to play in at least one preseason game and will be on the court for the season opener.
"I will be ready; there's no question," Paul said. "I would definitely love to play in an exhibition game. We'll see how it goes but I will be ready when the season starts."
Blake Griffin, who underwent surgery to repair a medial meniscus tear of his left knee on July 16, was cleared for full contact once camp begins.
"I feel great," Griffin said. "I've been at 100 percent for awhile now. I feel great and I'm ready to go. I don't have any restrictions, which is what I had hoped for."