Chris Paul talks Clippers extension

LAS VEGAS -- Yes, Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul passed on a chance to sign a three-year, $60 million extension with the club this summer.

But no, you shouldn't read too much into that. Paul passed, he said, because he can sign a five-year, $108 million extension next summer.

He hasn't decided whether to do so, but don't read into that, either.

"I'll wait until next summer to decide everything," Paul told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Saturday after officially being named to the United States Olympic team. "It's funny, ESPN doesn't put at the bottom of the ticker, like why you don't do the three-year. But I opted in for this year or I would've had the opportunity to do that again this summer."

Paul was referring to a decision he made to amend a provision in his previous contract that would've given him the opportunity to opt-out after this season. The Clippers requested this before they agreed to a multiplayer trade for Paul with the New Orleans Hornets.

Paul agreed to amend his contract after initial discussions with former general manager Neil Olshey, who'd been given permission by the Hornets to speak with him before the trade was completed. The two formed a tight bond and spoke frequently throughout the season.

But Olshey left the franchise to become the Portland Trail Blazers GM last month.

"Neil's gone and that was tough," Paul said. "Neil had a lot to do with me being here with the Clippers so I'm always going to be grateful to him for that. But he has a family to take of, things like that."

Asked if that would affect his feeling about his future with the organization, Paul said forcefully, "I'm excited about our future. Bringing in Jamal (Crawford), and obviously getting Chauncey (Billups) back. Everybody knows how I feel about that. That was huge."

Paul and Billups are close friends off the court and Paul was visibly upset when Billups was lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon in February. Billups has worked so hard in his rehabilitation, though, that Paul was confident in advocating the organization make a push to retain him.

"Some guys I wouldn't be as confident about," Paul said. "Coming off that injury, I can tell you the truth, I probably wouldn't have been as much like, 'Let's go get 'em.' But with Chauncey, I'm not going to second-guess it.

"Chauncey's been working extremely hard. I know when he went down, I was tore up, he was tore up. But more so than age, it's about determination and Chauncey has that. Every time I talk to him this summer he's doing that. I'm like, 'What you doing?' He's always at rehab."

For now though, Paul is focused on his role with Team USA. He's sat out much of the first two days of practice with a sprained right thumb but doesn't expect it to limit him for more than a few days.

He's joined on the Olympic team by Clippers teammate Blake Griffin.

"This is going to be unbelievable for Blake. We've been playing pickup games out at our facility in L.A. and (Olympic teammates Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler) have been there. The day Tyson was there, me, Tyson and Blake were on the same team and I think Blake realized just how much you have to talk on defense, and how tough it is to be a good defensive player.

"Being around these guys, you learn so much. Guys leave from this experience and go back to their teams with a ton of confidence."

Griffin, who had been on the bubble until a rash of injuries to some of Team USA's best frontcourt players, said he's already learning from the experience.

"The thing I'm excited about is just playing with these guys," Griffin said. "They're all great for a reason. Seeing what they do on the court. I can pick up some of those things, and then work them into my game while I'm developing as a player."