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Chris Paul staying with L.A. Clippers

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Chris Paul is staying with the Los Angeles Clippers.

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The All-Star point guard agreed to a new deal on the first day free agency opened, agent Leon Rose confirmed.

Paul posted a message on his Twitter account Monday morning, saying ``I'M IN!!!'' (hash)CLIPPERNATION

Paul led the Clippers to their first Pacific Division title last season and his decision to stay is the second big victory for the longtime losers in this offseason, following the signing of Doc Rivers as their new coach.

Paul can earn about $108 million over five years with the Clippers. The deal can't be signed until July 10, after next season's salary cap is set.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist has helped turn around the Clippers franchise in two seasons since coming in a trade from the New Orleans Hornets. They made the playoffs in both seasons, advancing to the second round in 2012, and went 56-26 this season, the best record in their history.

Paul averaged 16.9 points, 9.7 assists and an NBA-best 2.4 steals per game. He was the Western Conference player of the month in December, when the Clippers went 16-0.

Paul spent his first six seasons with the Hornets before he was dealt to the Clippers, shortly after the NBA, then serving as owners of the Hornets, stopped a trade that would have sent him instead to the Lakers.

That decision has paid off big for the Clippers, long the second-class citizens in Los Angeles but the team that played a much more exciting style and had much better results than the Lakers last season.

They fired Vinny Del Negro even after their 2012-13 success but landed one of the NBA's marquee coaches in Rivers, who led the Boston Celtics to the 2008 NBA championship.

Now they are holding onto perhaps the league's best point guard.

Paul missed 12 games with a bruised right kneecap and played a career-low 33.4 minutes per game, and still was second in the league in assists and first in assist-to-turnover ratio. He was MVP of the All-Star game and finished fourth in voting for the regular-season award.

The Wake Forest product is also one of the league's most popular players, serving as an executive on the NBA players' association.

AP NEWS
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