Chris Paul will be staying with the Los Angeles Clippers, agreeing to a five-year, $107 million contract extension.
Reports said Paul verbally agreed to the contract offer shortly after free agency began at 12:01 am on July 1. The signing will bring a conclusion to the contract extension that once seemed a foregone conclusion but grew some uncertainty in recent weeks.
Though sources close to the team said they had long expected Chris Paul to re-sign with the Clippers, the point guard reportedly became angry with the team after the firing of coach Vinny Del Negro. Paul believed he was unfairly taking the blame for the coach’s exit, calling into question whether he would re-sign with Los Angeles or test the free agency waters.
There were also reports that Paul was at least entertaining the idea of signing with the Atlanta Hawks along with center Dwight Howard, but the acquisition of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers seemed to cement Paul staying in Los Angeles.
The Clippers and Celtics worked for days on a swap that would send Rivers to Los Angeles in exchange for a draft pick (the NBA does not allow coaches to be directly traded). The deal appeared dead at one point in the process, but Chris Paul reportedly stepped in and urged team management to finish the deal.
Keeping Paul means the Clippers will be able to shop backup point guard Eric Bledsoe, who has already generated interest from the Orlando Magic and Toronto Raptors. The Clippers had viewed Bledsoe as an insurance policy if Paul had not re-signed.
There is still a bit of formality before Chris Paul can officially re-sign with the Clippers. Though he can agree to terms of the contract now, he is not able to officially sign until July 10. Paul tweeted from the BET Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday that he may not be able to officially agree to terms on Sunday but it won’t be long until he can.