It will be a lingering concern
I have no doubt Chris Paul is going to say everything he's supposed to say every time he's asked about his plans for the future. I also have no doubt, however, that he's going to be asked some version of the question almost daily all season long.
Until he flat out says, "I intend to re-sign with the Clippers this summer," he will be asked about his intentions. And he's not going to say that, because what person with half a mind for business would say that early in the process and kill any bit of leverage he may have down the road? Leverage about things such as roster composition, the direction of the front office and coaching staffs, or anything in between.
None of this is to say Paul is looking to exert any of that leverage, or even to suggest he might be thinking of leaving as a free agent. But why in the world would a player as smart as Paul is on and off the court give up any leverage he might have and essentially box himself into a corner?
No, this is going to be a constant topic of discussion this year. Reporters have a way of keeping a story like this alive. Paul might answer the question the same way every time, but as long as there is any question about his future with the Clippers, we'll keep asking him about it.
Paul won't let it be a distraction
Chris Paul knows he has a decision to make after this season. He knows he could have put to rest any questions about his future if he had just signed the three-year, $60 million extension the Clippers had offered in the offseason, but that wouldn't have made much business sense.
After this season, Paul can sign a five-year, $108 million extension with the Clippers. Then again, he also could pack up his bags and go play elsewhere. So how much of a distraction will Paul's decision be for the Clippers this season?
None. Zero. Nada.
Paul isn't addressing his free-agent status. He will always respond by saying, "I'll wait until next summer to decide everything," and move on. He will refuse to make this a distraction, and quite frankly those who know Paul are quietly confident that this is where he will be long-term. The Clippers are the team that can offer him the most money, the best city for his off-court endeavors and the most talented supporting cast.
"It's no secret; everybody in my family knows I wanted to go to the Clippers," Paul told me. "I may be different in a way, but I've always jumped at the opportunity to do something that's never been done, and here with the Clippers with Blake and DJ and adding these pieces and stuff like that, I'm excited about the opportunities there."