Chris Paul has verbally agreed to a five-year, $107 million contract extension to remain with the Los Angeles Clippers. Paul can't sign his new contract until July 10 but could agree to terms as of 12:01 a.m. ET. He’ll earn $18.8 million in the first year of the deal. Paul posted a message on his Twitter account Monday morning, saying “I’M IN!!! #CLIPPERNATION.” Paul led the Clippers to their first Pacific Division title last season and his decision to stay is the second big victory for the longtime losers in this offseason, following the signing of Doc Rivers as their new coach.
Paul will become the second high-profile player to sign a long-term extension with the Clippers in the past two seasons. Blake Griffin signed a five-year, $95 million extension last summer.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist has helped turn the Clippers franchise around in two seasons since coming in a trade from the New Orleans Hornets. They made the playoffs in both seasons, advancing to the second round in 2012, and went 56-26 this season, the best record in their history. Paul averaged 16.9 points, 9.7 assists and an NBA-best 2.4 steals per game. He was the Western Conference player of the month in December, when the Clippers went 16-0.
Paul spent his first six seasons with the Hornets before he was dealt to the Clippers, shortly after the NBA, then serving as owners of the Hornets, stopped a trade that would have sent him instead to the Lakers. That decision has paid off big for the Clippers, no longer the second-class citizens in Los Angeles but the team that played with a much more exciting style and had much better results than the Lakers last season.
Paul, the pillar of the foundation on the floor and in the locker room, now stands as a beacon for other free agents glancing in the Clippers' direction. That also began in earnest as the free agency chase opened after midnight eastern time on Monday.
The Clippers have reportedly been in contact with former USC star O.J. Mayo, a player Rivers coveted when he coached the Celtics. The Clippers may also be pursuing guard Tony Allen of the Memphis Grizzlies. With Mayo, the Clippers would have added shooting help and with Allen, they would bolster their perimeter defense. Those are two of the shortcomings and weaknesses the Clippers have vowed to shore up for next season.
Chris Paul, who is a product of Wake Forest University, is also one of the league’s most popular players, serving as an executive on the NBA players’ association.