Chris Paul Leaving Los Angeles Clippers Would Be Huge Mistake

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2013

A frustrated Chris Paul is considering leaving the Los Angeles Clippers.
A frustrated Chris Paul is considering leaving the Los Angeles Clippers.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The once-perceived formality of Chris Paul staying with the Los Angeles Clippers now looms as a mystery, but the star point guard would be wise to stay put.

According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, Paul is unhappy with the organization, who he feels has villified him as the culprit for Vinny Del Negro's firing.

Reading owner Donald Sterling's comments after absolving Del Negro's contract, it's easy to see why Paul feels the finger is being pointed adamantly his way. In Broussard's report, Sterling does everything but directly say it was the players who made the decision to fire him.

I always want to be honest and not say anything that is not true. So I'd rather not say anything. But you know, the coach did a really good job. I think he did. And I liked working with him. There are just factors that make life very complicated and very challenging.

When later asked by T.J. Simers of The Los Angeles Times if he'd be "off base" in saying that the players call the shots, Sterling responded that, "This is a players' league, and, unfortunately, if you want to win, you have to make the players happy."

Years of ineptitude within the Clippers' organization gives Paul legitimate reasons to consider skipping town. Despite his owner's baffling remarks and his often baffling personnel moves, the Clippers have a good thing going right now, one that Paul would be remiss to abandon.

For starters, he has a formidable floor buddy in Blake Griffin, who, despite all his imperfections fundamentally, still averaged 18.0 points per game last year on 53.8 percent shooting. Don't forget that the formal No. 1 pick is still only 24 years old.

Before laying an egg against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round, the Clippers won 56 games during the season.

Paul could join forces with Dwight Howard, but the new collective bargaining agreement has made it much tougher to build another team. If the two stars unite (with Atlanta discussed as a possible destination), the organization may struggle to build much around them.

Meanwhile, the Clippers boasted one of the deepest rosters in the NBA. While Matt Barnes will be a likely salary cap casualty, Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler, Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe can all stay in town.

Unless Paul can somehow assemble a dynamo elsewhere, the Clippers are his best chance at winning. There was a time during the season where they looked the part of a genuine title contender.

And of course, staying in Los Angeles makes financial sense for Paul. The Clippers can offer him as much as $108 million—$28 million more than anyone else—over five years. He could make up some of the difference by avoiding state income tax in Dallas, but then he must leave behind the glitz and glamor of Los Angeles.

Playing in Los Angeles is about much more than Lob City—it's Paul rightful insertion into the public limelight as an NBA superstar. It's the chance to immortalize himself as the leader of the Clippers' squad that finally surpassed the Lakers as the city's best team.

Most importantly, what would his departure from L.A. mean for Cliff Paul? I shudder just thinking about it.