The Los Angeles Clippers have hit a rough patch lately, but they may have a huge reason to be optimistic about their future. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, a source says Chris Paul is "99.5 percent" likely to re-sign with the Clippers this offseason:
As one source close to the situation put it this week when asked to grade the Clips' chances of retaining CP3, keeping in mind his well-chronicled love of the Hollywood scene and the fact that this team was good enough to reel off 17 wins in a row earlier this season: "I'm saying 99.5 percent."
The Clippers' standing near the top of the Western Conference made many bullish about the prospect of Paul coming back, but nothing has ever been guaranteed. Paul rejected the team's three-year, $60 million extension offer in the summer.
The rejection was mostly due to Paul's eligibility for a five-year deal in the summer of 2013, but that did not stop the rampant speculation he would leave. The New York Knicks have been a rumored suitor for years, dating back to when Paul told Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire that "we'll form our own Big Three."
However, the Knicks have moved on quite nicely with their current threesome of Stoudemire, Anthony and Tyson Chandler, while Paul has flourished with the Clippers. Los Angeles is third in the Western Conference heading into Saturday's slate of games, as Paul, Blake Griffin and a quality cast of supporting players have combined to make the Clips an in-vogue NBA Finals selection.
While it's been a full team effort, Paul is undoubtedly the driving force behind the Clippers' ascent. The 27-year-old point guard is averaging 16.3 points and 9.5 assists per game while putting up a 25.63 player efficiency rating, third best in the NBA. The Clippers offense is also more than 10 points better per 100 possessions with Paul on the floor, per NBA.com.
Paul has been the ignitor of this team, as evidenced by how the Clippers cratered in his recent absence. They lost six of the 12 games Paul missed while suffering from a bruised kneecap, flailing with Eric Bledsoe manning the distributing controls full-time.
With Paul returning from injury and seemingly on the path to signing a new contract, it appears the Clippers won't have to worry about being without their star going forward.