Chris Paul returned to a Los Angeles basketball court on Saturday afternoon.

Not that you’d know it by the lack of media attention when he arrived.

Reporters were sparse inside the UCLA gym where his Houston team practiced, in part because the Clippers team that he left behind last summer was on the road and the Lakers team that the Rockets face on Sunday was handling the front end of its back-to-back set in Denver.

But also, one can surmise, because it’s not a true return.

As reunion games go, this is as strange as it gets for Paul because, well, it’s not actually a reunion. Yet because the Lakers play inside the same Staples Center where Paul tried for all those years to turn the Clippers into a legitimate title contender, and because a return to the city itself sparks so many fond memories no matter the opponent, there will be emotion here when the time for tipoff arrives. He’s just not sure which ones they will be.

“I don’t know (how I'll feel inside Staples),” said Paul, whose Rockets are spending five days and four nights here in all leading into a Thursday game at Utah. “I just – I don’t know … It’s cool being back, though. I tell you that much. To get to see a lot of familiar faces, and a lot of familiar areas, it’s good to be back.”

Paul, who used the leverage of his possible free agency to orchestrate the trade to Houston in late June, has long since explained his rationale for leaving, with his reasons ranging from the strong desire to play with James Harden to the feeling that the Clippers core had run its course. But the timing of him being back in town makes for the toughest of contrasts.