What Would It Take to Make Chris Paul Happy?
Given that the perennial All-Star (and free-agent-to-be in 2013) has transformed this team from laughing stock to Western Conference contender, those pitches have surely increased in frequency and urgency.
It appears, though, that those sales talks may be falling on deaf ears, according to a chat hosted by Comcast Bay Area's Ric Bucher:
I've heard whispers that CP3 isn't as enamored with the Clippers -- or playing with Blake -- as advertised, but since it has come from execs on other teams, I'm a little wary about how much credence to give it. They're still very thin on the front line, particularly when it comes to scoring in half-court sets. If they get to the conference finals, it would be a significant accomplishment.
It could very well be just a byproduct of what will surely be a heated race to acquire the MVP candidate.
Paul will have no shortage of suitors, and Bucher himself questioned the validity of his sources.
But this isn't the first time that malcontent and Chris Paul have been used in the same sentence.
After serving as the face of the franchise for the New Orleans Hornets (and an ambassador for the city as a whole) for the better part of his six-year tenure, his relationship with the organization broke beyond repair in 2010.
He pushed for his exit prior to the 2010-11 season and saw the parallels between himself and LeBron James, both superstars hindered by their teams' inability to attract championship-caliber teammates.
James hit free agency in the summer of 2010 and famously joined ranks with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat. Paul, meanwhile, looked around his locker room and saw an All-Star that he created (David West) and a collection of sorrows.
He was ultimately unable to force his departure that year, but found his way out of the Crescent City before the start of the 2011-12 season.
The Clippers have more bargaining chips than the Hornets ever brought to the negotiating table. They have a legitimate starting five and a bench to back them up.
Will Chris Paul re-sign with Clippers?
And Paul's had the ears of the front office since his arrival in L.A. The team promoted Gary Sacks to vice president of basketball operations over the summer, and the executive has engaged Paul in personnel decisions.
The Clippers also have no commitment to coach Vinny Del Negro beyond the 2012-13 season. So the door is open for Paul to hand-pick his next coach if he's not enamored with Del Negro.
But they've still got work to do to ensure that their point guard becomes a mainstay on the organization for years to come.
There isn't some predetermined number of wins or playoff rounds that will guarantee his return. A championship might appear to be their most convincing argument, but that could merely be a pleasant finish to his brief stay in L.A.
The Clippers need to use these coming months to prove to their point guard that they're able to attract superstar talent and willing to shoulder the costs in doing so.
Paul understands the importance of championships in determining his lasting legacy left on the basketball world. And he may not yet be convinced that this current Clippers roster is built to contend beyond this season.
Perhaps his wavering will continue into the offseason when the Clippers can showcase their ability to draw superstars to play alongside him.
But if the point guard has shown anything to this organization over his season-plus run, it's that he's clearly worth the wait.
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