JULY 10TH: The Clippers didn't waste any time once the moratorium ended, officially announcing Paul's new deal on the team's website.
JULY 1ST: Chris Paul took to Twitter to announce his return to the Clippers this morning, adding confirmation to news that's been expected for some time. His representatives had begun telling other teams this weekend not to bother making a pitch to him, since he had already committed to the Clips.
Agent Leon Rose confirms to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com that Paul has verbally agreed to a five-year, $107MM deal, with the ability to opt out after four seasons (Twitter links). Presumably, that means Paul is getting the maximum salary, as our Luke Adams projected Paul would be in line for $107MM when he looked at maximum scenarios this spring. That number, like the deal itself, won't become official until the July Moratorium is over next week.
With Blake Griffin's extension set to kick in this coming season and Doc Rivers coming aboard this summer, the Clippers employ the league's highest paid coach and have committed more than $200MM to a pair of stars, as Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com points out via Twitter. The deals for both Griffin and Paul will run through 2018, though Griffin, too, can opt out after 2016/17. Griffin has an early-termination option for 2017/18, and I'd imagine Paul's opt-out clause is in the form of an early-termination option, too.
Paul didn't speak to any other teams after free agency began late last night, notes Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times, and if he had, it would have been surprising. The hiring of Rivers as coach and primary front office decision-maker appeared to clinch the deal for Paul, whom other teams, like the Mavericks, Rockets and Hawks, had hoped could be lured away.
Paul and Dwight Howard had been considered the top two free agents on the market, and CP3 was far and away the best point guard available. Teams looking for a free agent option who can run their offense must turn to a crop headlined by Jose Calderon, Brandon Jennings and Jeff Teague. The Clippers have been rumored to be pursuing Howard in a sign-and-trade, but that appears to be a longshot.