Chris Paul Expected to Start Thursday After Missing Nearly One Month

The nine-time All Star has been sidelined since Oct. 17 with a bruised left knee.
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Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul is expected to return to the team for Thursday's matchup against the Phoenix Suns, head coach Mike D'Antoni said before practice Wednesday.

"He's ready to go," D'Antoni said. "I think he's playing tomorrow, so we'll see."

Paul, a nine-time All Star, has not played since the Rockets' season opener against the Warriors on Oct. 17 due to a bruised left knee.

"There's nothing like playing a game, so I'm excited about the process of it," Paul told reporters.

The 32-year-old was traded to Houston in June after deciding to opt in on the final year of his contract (worth $24 million) so that the Clippers could trade him to the Rockets in exchange for Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and L.A.’s minorly protected 2018 first round pick.

"What we've done up to now doesn't count," D'Antoni said. "We've got a new team tomorrow. When you put that big of a rock into a pond, there's big waves... We have to endure the next two or three games and smooth it out as we go along."

The 2017 Coach of the Year also said he wouldn't put a minute restriction on his star point guard, but rather would "figure things out as they go."

Houston has remained successful in Paul's absence, with All-Star James Harden taking over primary ball handling duties and leading the team to an 11-4 record and the second seed in the Western Conference. The Rockets will travel to Phoenix Thursday before meeting the Grizzlies in Memphis on Saturday.