Clippers 'very confident' they will re-sign CP3
However, things fell apart quickly for LA's "other" team. A 94-82 loss in Memphis was the first of four straight double-digit defeats for the Clippers, and they quickly went from being in the driver's seat to watching the playoffs from home. The disappointing outcome certainly wasn't Paul's fault, as he was an absolute monster in the series. Paul averaged 22.8 points (53.3% shooting) with 6.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.8 steals. As for his supporting cast, no one else averaged more than 13.2 points, 3.0 assists, or 6.3 rebounds.
With Paul now entering free agency, there has been speculation that the lack of support he received in the series loss to Memphis may cause him to explore other options. In addition, many believe that Paul is not happy with head coach Vinny Del Negro, whose tactics have been questioned and criticized quite a bit during his time in LA.
According to Clippers vice president Gary Sacks, however, Clippers fans should feel good about their chances of getting their best player back. "I feel very confident," Sacks said of re-signing Paul. "We feel like we had a great partnership for the last couple of years and we want to continue it."
The Clippers have the significant advantage of being able to pay Paul more than any other team, thanks to the Bird Rights clause. If he re-signs with the Clippers, Paul can receive a five-year max contract worth $108 million. Paul will be eligible to sign that contract on July 1.
Though they are able to offer the most money, the Clippers may have to give Paul something else as well - a say in personnel decisions. A Clippers official recently told HoopsHype that "this is Chris' roster" in reference to the players that surround the star point guard on the basketball court. In addition, Paul will likely have a major say when it comes to deciding the Clippers' next head coach - incumbent Vinny Del Negro's contract expires on June 1.
This was a tactic used by the Orlando Magic in an attempt to keep Dwight Howard, though it didn't work out too well for them - Howard now plays for the Lakers. However, Paul has more to work with, is already in a big market, and has expressed an interest in re-signing, so his chances of staying put are obviously better than Howard's were.
Though he has stated that he loves living in LA, Paul insists that he is in no rush to make a decision on his future. "I'm going to take my time," Paul said. "I haven't even thought about it."
Paul may make a few visits with other teams just to test the water a little bit, but it would be a big surprise if he doesn't sign that max contract that the Clippers will offer him on July 1. Paul will likely re-sign early on in July, and you can expect him to have a say in the coaching change that is looming for his Clippers.