Clippers’ Blake Griffin, Chris Paul decide to become free agents – Orange County Register

The Clippers’ summer of uncertainty officially started Friday when Chris Paul and Blake Griffin notified the team they will opt out of their contracts to become unrestricted free agents.

The moves, long expected, were first reported by The Vertical and ESPN.

Griffin had until June 28 to make his decision, while Paul had until June 29.

The Clippers are widely regarded as strong favorites to retain both players when they hit the open market July 1, given their significant financial advantages over competing teams in trying to sign them, but they will be courted and each surely will take meetings with multiple teams.

Paul, 32, is regarded as one of the premier point guards in the league. San Antonio is reportedly very interested, but the Spurs would need to clear significant salary-cap space to make signing Paul a reality. The 12-year pro has spent the past six seasons leading the Clippers.

Paul can sign a five-year, $205-million extension with the Clippers. Other teams could offer him no more than a four-year deal worth approximately $152 million.

In 61 games, Paul averaged 18.1 points, 9.2 assists and 2.0 steals per game last season to go with 124 3-pointers.

Griffin, 28, is one of the NBA’s top power forwards, though he has struggled to stay healthy in his seven seasons since being drafted No. 1 overall by the Clippers in 2010.

Griffin can re-sign with the Clippers for up to five years and $175 million. If he leaves, he could sign for up to four years and $130 million with another team. Boston is reportedly among the teams interested in Griffin.

He played in only 61 games this season, averaging 21.6 points and 8.1 rebounds, but missed the rest of the playoffs after injuring his big toe on April 21 during Game 4 of the Clippers’ first-round Western Conference series with the Utah Jazz.

The Clippers have the ability to engage in sign-and-trade talks if either player were to decide he wants to continue his career somewhere else, but neither could get…

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