Chris Paul's representatives have told teams not to even bother pursuing the point guard when free agency begins at 12:01 a.m. ET Monday because he will re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. . .
Some people are celebrating, some are still neurotically holding their breath until he signs the paper, some in Dallas and Atlanta and Houston are upset. But me? My response is something along the lines of, "Yeah, I know."
Just because this is now "news" in the national media doesn't mean that it should be news to anyone who has been following the situation closely. Maybe I'm just arrogant, but considering that somewhere in my soul I'm still traumatized by FElton leaving the Clippers, I don't think that that's it. I think that it's just sort of been obvious the whole time what's really going on here.
Chris Paul loves Los Angeles. Even last summer, when he released his new shoes, he had his hometown area code on one sneaker and his LA area code on the other sneaker. Why? "One foot in the past, one in the future". Not to mention that he loves living here. It's one of the best places in the world to live when you have money: there's beaches, nice weather, good night life, diverse foods, theme parks, golf courses... everything that an NBA star could want.
Living in LA even gives Paul endorsement opportunities that he didn't use to have. Does "Cliff Paul" ever exist and make him buckets of extra money in a small market? I don't think so.
The Clippers can also give Paul a longer, more lucrative contract than any other team in the league with his bird rights. So why would he leave around $20M on the table, and lost millions more in endorsements, to leave an amazing city.
The most obvious reason that Chris Paul was staying, though, was because he's currently the best player on a very good basketball team that's only getting better. He's playing alongside an All-Star Starter and All-NBA power forward in Blake Griffin, and the rest of the supporting cast is pretty admirable (even if they played poorly in the playoffs). Not to mention that the Clippers now have one of the most respected coaches in the league with Doc Rivers to lure Chris Paul back onto the roster. To a lesser extent, the drafting of Reggie Bullock, a 3-and-D prospect, is a solid move that maybe helps Chris Paul get a little more excited about coming back.
So when it starts sounding like CP3 is coming back to the LAC, should I act surprised?
In Paul's exit interview 25 days ago, Steve wrote:
Paul is an unrestricted free agent. All of his public comments regarding the Clippers have always been very positive: he's always characterized himself as very happy as a Clipper, and he says he loves living in L.A. However the playoff loss could be viewed as a reason not to re-sign, especially since Paul did everything he could in the postseason but the rest of the team faltered. There was also a story recently quoting unnamed sources saying that Paul was unhappy with the Clippers for allowing his name to be tied to the fact that Del Negro's contract was not extended. Does this all mean that Paul will leave this summer? Paul could of course sign elsewhere -- he has that option. But would he?
The simple answer is no -- not the way I see it.
That wasn't the first or last time that any of us spoke of Paul's re-signing as a certainty. I don't know how many times I've had the following conversation in the last month or two:
Other person: "Hey man, you're a Clippers fan, right?"
Other person: "Do you think Chris Paul is going to re-sign?"
Me: "Yeah definitely"
Other person: "I don't know man... I don't know."
Me: "You'll see. Trust me."
I don't think that I'm alone in experiencing forms of that conversation countless times. It was just sort of understood and assumed that he had no better team, no bigger market, no bigger contract to go to.
But, we have to play along with the narrative. Chris Paul was very, very "upset" at the Clippers according to multiple, unnamed, fabricated sources on ESPN used to create a controversy. He was going to Atlanta or Houston with Dwight Howard. At least ESPN was half right; it looks like Dwight is heading to one of those teams.
So, Chris Paul is coming back. Be happy. You should be. He's one of the best players in the NBA. But whatever you do, don't let on that you knew the ending all along- that would spoil ESPN's narrative. When the "news" breaks sometime in the next week, make sure you act surprised.