The top two free agents this offseason both resided in Los Angeles with the Lakers and Clippers respectively in All-Star’s Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. So the question on most people’s minds to start the free-agency period and unofficial start of this years NBA offseason is where Howard and Paul would land, “Would they stay with their current teams or would they team up with each other to go somewhere like Atlanta or Dallas?” While one of those questions was answered just hours after the beginning of free-agency as point guard Chris Paul commited to a five-year max deal expected to be worth $107 million to stay in Los Angeles with the Clippers.
Paul’s deal can’t be made official till July 10th when players can sign contracts with the setting of next season’s salary cap to be in place, but as of 12:01 a.m. ET this morning July 1st players could agree to terms. His agent, Leon Rose, confirmed the deal to ESPNLosAngeles.com and according to sources Paul always intended to stay with the Clippers with the teams recent acquisition of Doc Rivers last week as their new head coach and senior vice president of basketball operations only strengthening that cause.
It was said that Paul at least entertained the notion of joining Howard with the Hawks, but ultimately wanted to try helping finish complete a turnaround of the Clippers with a championship after having already taking the team to straight playoffs since his acquisition from New Orleans a couple of years ago. Paul also lead the team to the second round in his first year with the team in 2012 and it’s best record at 56-26 last season for their first Pacific Division title in history.
With two-time Olympian Paul, who averaged 16.9 points, 9.7 assists and an NBA-best 2.4 steals off the market and the dream of teaming with Howard just that now (a dream) it should be interesting to see what the Clippers try to do to build a contender around him for the next few years to try and actually compete for a title. With nearly $200 million committed to him and Blake Griffin over the next four to five years that will be a hard task to do and overtake the Oklahoma City Thunder or San Antonio Spurs in the always deep and competitive Western Conference.