The Clippers wasted no time in locking up their franchise point guard.
ESPNLA.com reported Sunday that unrestricted free agent Chris Paul would soon agree to a five-year, $107 million extension with the Clipppers and, judging by a tweet from Paul, that deal became a reality Monday morning.
"'I'M IN!!!," Paul tweeted. "#CLIPPERNATION."
Free agency officially opened on Monday, July, 1 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time, or 9:01 p.m. Sunday in Los Angeles. Although teams and players can begin having contact as of July 1, deals cannot be officially consummated until the end of the free agency moratorium on July 10.
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Paul, 28, averaged 16.9 points, 9.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 steals for the Clippers last season. After locking up All-Star forward Blake Griffin to a five-year contract extension last summer, the Clippers' number one priority has been re-signing Paul. Coach Vinny Del Negro was let go back in May and the organization sent a first-round pick to the Celtics so that coach Doc Rivers would be let out of his contract and allowed to sign on with the Clippers. Management also issued a statement taking responsibility for Del Negro's departure, as Paul was reportedly unhappy that he was being blamed for the decision.
The six-time All-Star was selected to the All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team last season. After advancing to the Western Conference semifinals in 2012 and winning the first division title in franchise history this season, Paul and company were bounced from the first round of the playoffs by the Grizzlies.
Per the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, Paul was allowed to sign a five-year contract with the Clippers or a four-year contract with any outside suitors. CBSSports.com reported that Paul's deal has an opt-out clause after the fourth year.
Paul is either the No. 1 or No. 2 available free agent in this year's class, depending on how you feel about Lakers unrestricted free agent center Dwight Howard. Retaining him was a no-brainer for the Clippers, and the only real question here is how Paul's surgically-repaired knee will hold up over the course of the deal. Paul missed 12 games and played a career-low 33.4 minutes per game last season, and a five-year extension will carry him through his age-32 season. There's no guarantee that Paul will make it to the end of his deal in full health but that risk is barely worth a second thought to the Clippers, who have seen Paul transform their status as a perennial also-ran into a fringe championship contender during his two seasons in L.A.long been assumed