Reasons Why Chris Paul Will or Won't Spurn the L.A. Clippers Next Summer

Oren FriedmanCorrespondent IISeptember 3, 2012

Reasons Why Chris Paul Will or Won't Spurn the L.A. Clippers Next Summer

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    Widely regarded as the best free agent of 2013, Chris Paul has been transcendent for the Los Angeles Clippers franchise.

    In the one brief lock-out shortened season that Paul has donned the red, white and blue, Lob City has gone from league laughing stock to potential contender.

    After rejecting an extension from the Clippers' front office earlier this summer, Paul will see how this season plays out before deciding where to sign.

    For the Clippers, this season is all about one thing: locking up CP3 long-term.

    Here are some of the factors that could impact Paul's NBA future.

An Improved Roster

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    Last season was something of an experiment for head coach Vinny Del Negro in Lob City.

    Without a real training camp and an abridged preseason, the Clippers front office brought together various pieces and put them on the floor hoping that something would coalesce.

    Both Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups were acquired just before the start of the regular season.

    Big men Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin were brought on once the season had begun, and the Clips made a move for Nick Young in the waning hours before the trade deadline.

    As a result of these moves, the Clips had little time to get their chemistry going. The play was disturbing at times, as Lob City suffered a brutal stretch in the middle of March, dropping eight of 12 games at one point.

    Although LAC acquired new pieces in Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill this summer, the team will have plenty of time to get going.

    With Eric Bledsoe primed for a breakout season, this team could be scary in the West.

    The improved play of the team should have CP3 convinced, and keep him on the Clippers for the foreseeable future.

Money Talks

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    By having the ability to re-sign Paul, the Clippers can offer the bona fide superstar more money and more years than any other team in the league.

    If Paul re-signs with the Clippers, he will be able to snag a five-year deal worth up to $108 million, significantly more than he would get signing elsewhere.

    Had Paul signed the three-year extension the Clippers offered him earlier this summer, he would have conceded two years and almost $50 million.

    Barring some catastrophic injury, the Clippers are willing to pay the big bucks to keep Paul on LA's other team.

    Fans should not lose their heads over his reluctance to hold out until next summer. Paul's heart looks to be in LA, it was a business move to wait to re-sign.

Unfinished Business

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    Playing in the shadows of the retired greats of the Los Angeles Lakers, Chris Paul would love to shut the pundits up and beat the Lake Show.

    In another offseason in which the high profile Lakers somehow acquired both Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, Paul's competitiveness has shot through the roof.

    Keep in mind, Paul was supposed to originally land in purple and gold before the infamous veto last fall.

    The uber-competitive Paul is one of the few players in the NBA that can inspire both awe and confidence in his teammates and fan base.

    With expectations as high as they have ever been for both teams in LA, Paul is looking to knock off Kobe Bryant and his band of superfriends.

    His comments on the Lakers' acquisition of D12 sum it up best (via LATimes.com):

    "It's great for L.A. Getting Steve Nash was great; Dwight just makes it a bigger scene, more exciting," Paul says. "But like I said, it sounds good and well, but you've got to play the game ... and I cannot wait to play the game with my improved team. I. Can. Not. Wait."

    With the Battle of LA getting more and more hype, Paul is refusing to concede. In what looks to be a healthy rivalry for at least the next five years, CP3 looks to be the right guy to lead LAC.

It's in the Shoes

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    If Chris Paul does not re-sign with the Clippers next summer, then he did quite the job of teasing the team's much maligned fan base.

    From organizing summer workouts with up-and-comers Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan, to partying and training with young guys Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie in Las Vegas, Paul is one of the main guys orchestrating the development of the Clippers' youthful roster.

    Even his footwear suggests longevity in Los Angeles.

    The debut of his new CP3.VI shoe might have foreshadowed his plans for the future.

    Analyzing the qualities of the shoes, ESPN.com's Chris Palmer wrote (via ESPN.com):

    "On the tip of one set of shoelaces is the number 310, the Los Angeles area code. On the other is 336, the area code in his hometown of Winston-Salem. 

    The midfoot shank on the sole provides torsional rigidity and enhanced support but is also a shout-out to the two most important places in Paul’s life. On the right shoe the shank is embedded with a map of the downtown LA area surrounding Staples Center. The left has a map of the area surrounding his alma mater, West Forsyth High School in Clemmons, N.C., a small suburb of Winston-Salem.

    'It’s one foot in the past and one in the future,' [shoe designer Tom] Luedecke said."

    Paul never had a shoe with the 504 area code of New Orleans on it.

    His decision to put multiple elements of Los Angeles alongside components of his transformative home in Winston-Salem is revealing in itself.

    Given his happiness in LA and all that he has put into this team, it would be quite a shocker to see Paul playing elsewhere in 2013-14.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

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    It seems that for every good thing that happens to the Clippers, something bad happens as well.

    When LAC looked poised to return to playoff form before the 2007-08 NBA season, All-Star forward Elton Brand ruptured his Achilles, keeping him out for most of the season.

    That offseason Brand's contract expired, and he spurned the Clips in order to sign with the 76ers.

    By now the Clippers had already agreed to sign point guard Baron Davis to a massive five-year deal.

    After lucking out and nabbing Blake Griffin with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, BD promptly injured his knee and was lost for the season.

    The Clippers endured multiple seasons in the draft lottery before making it back to the playoffs last season, further hindering the team's development and progress.

    Despite the optimism that surrounds Paul in LA, a pessimistic fan would find it fitting to see CP3 leave and sign elsewhere next summer.

    Here are three reasons why Paul could leave LA next offseason.

Greener Pastures

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    Although the Clippers have enjoyed unprecedented success in just one year with Chris Paul, the star point guard could find other playing opportunities more enticing than his current situation in LA.

    When Mark Cuban calls Paul and his representatives next summer and offers him the chance to play with Dirk Nowitzki and a reputable franchise in Dallas, will Paul resist the temptation?

    Where Dwight Howard finds himself in 2012-13 will also be crucial to Paul's decision.

    The Atlanta Hawks are one of a few teams that can clear enough cap space to sign both superstars to mega-deals.

    If the Clippers are knocked out of the playoffs early, then Paul could find another superstar to play with and bounce from Lob City.

Brutal Competition

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    As it stands, the Clippers are not the best or even the second-best team in the West.

    The Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder appear to be head and shoulders above the rest of the conference.

    The Clippers have never played the San Antonio Spurs well and the already athletic Denver Nuggets just added lanky wingman Andre Iguodala.

    Unless this team really turns it on down the stretch, then it is unlikely that the Clippers will be hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy next June.

    Few teams can expedite the championship process the way the Miami Heat did last season.

    Blake Griffin just finished his second season in the pros and the Clippers are just starting to develop their younger players.

    Despite the expectations in Lob City, the Clippers are just beginning an incremental winning process.

    Depending on how long Paul is willing to wait could be critical in determining where he will be playing in the future.

Deficient Coaching

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    The best teams in the Western Conference all have elite coaches.

    From Mike Brown on the Lakers to Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City, the conference's upper echelon has some of the most adept coaches in the game.

    The same cannot be said for the boys in Lob City.

    Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro is among the most deficient coaches in the league.

    From running one of the most basic offenses in the game, to failing to make the right adjustments in crunch time, Del Negro has dropped the ball time and time again with the game on the line.

    Gregg Popovich's schooling of Del Negro in the Spurs sweep of the Clippers last May was revealing in itself.

    Although Del Negro's contract expires at the end of this season, how the team plays in 2012-13 will have an impact on Paul's free agency decisions.

    The onus is on the young Del Negro to alter his coaching scheme this season. The steps he takes will be significant in assessing whether Paul will re-sign with Los Angeles next summer.