CHRIS PAUL TO STAY WITH CLIPPERS

Chris Paul

It’s official. Chris Paul will remain in Los Angeles.

After more than a year of somewhat tempered speculation about where the league’s premier point guard would spend the next chapter of his NBA career, Paul agreed to a long-term contract with the Clippers that secures his future with the franchise through the 2017-18 season.

Paul reportedly made the decision to re-sign almost immediately after the NBA’s free agency period began on July 1, simply tweeting “I’M IN!!! #CLIPPERNATION” at 8:27 a.m.

But the deal could not be completed until the league’s annual moratorium on new business was lifted eight days later. That opportunity came at 9:01 p.m. PDT on Tuesday, when Paul, a six-time All-Star and perennial All-NBA performer, made things official.

It was just 18 months ago that Paul walked through the team’s Playa Vista training center doors for the first time following a trade with the then-New Orleans Hornets that included Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu and 2012 first-round draft pick which was used by New Orleans to select guard Austin Rivers.

When the Clippers acquired Paul it sped up the trajectory of one of the youngest and most exciting teams in the NBA. They went from a 32-50 season in 2010-11, including a near .500 record in the second half of superstar Blake Griffin’s breakout rookie season, to a .649 (96-52) winning percentage in the two years since. The Clippers made back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since 1991-92 and 1992-93 and are widely considered one of top four teams in the Western Conference.

Paul has been a major part of that ascension. In 130 regular-season games in L.A., he’s averaged 18.3 points, 9.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.5 steals. He has been elected an All-Star starter alongside Griffin both years, twice finished in the top four of Most Valuable Player balloting and was a First Team All-Defensive team member.

The deal marks another significant step for the Clippers, who received a long-term commitment from Griffin last summer, hired former NBA champion Doc Rivers as Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach in June, and have extended DeAndre Jordan and signed free agent Jamal Crawford, among others, over the last two seasons.

At the time of his acquisition in Dec. 2011, Paul said he “believed in the organization” and wanted to win “now.” The winning commenced almost immediately after he arrived and he reaffirmed that belief in the late hours of Tuesday night.