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Doc Rivers will beg Chris Paul to return to Clippers

Los Angeles ClippersChris PaulBasketballDoc RiversLamar OdomNBA

When will Chris Paul make a decision on his future?

The Clippers and everyone associated with them will be holding their breath that the unrestricted free agent re-signs with the team.

Even Doc Rivers, the Clippers' new coach and senior vice president of basketball operations, acknowledged that he'll be "begging" Paul to return.

When the free-agency periods opens Sunday at 9:01 p.m., the Clippers will make their first call and yet another pitch to Paul to convince the All-Star point guard to play for them.

The Clippers already have the coach in Rivers for whom Paul supposedly wanted to play.

The Clippers will offer Paul a maximum five-year deal worth $107.3 million.

Most NBA executives who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter believe Paul will stay with the Clippers.

But for the Clippers, they will have to wait to see whether Paul agrees to a deal with them Sunday night. He can't sign the contract until the NBA's lifts its moratorium July 10.

"I'll be on the phone a lot — begging," Rivers said Thursday night after the NBA draft. "That's what we do. I call all the college coaches and try and get all the tips on how to recruit. So that's what we'll do. We have a great place and it's a great place to recruit. I can tell you that."

With the Clippers expected to re-sign Paul, the rumors persist that L.A. will look to trade backup point guard Eric Bledsoe.

The most common belief is that the Clippers would like to use Bledsoe as a trade piece to acquire a shooting guard, which is the most pressing need for the team.

Rivers, however, tried to put the brakes on trade talks.

"I keep hearing all these rumors about us and the trades," Rivers said. "I like this team — now. So I don't know if we need to do anything. We want to add to the team. We don't want to take away from the team. That's the way I'm looking at it so far.

"It's a young team that needs growth. I don't know if it's a young team that needs change. Obviously we're going to look around. But I like the team the way it is and I just think we need to keep adding to it."

The Clippers probably will have the "non-taxpayer" mid-level exception of $5.15 million to spend on a player, and it's something that they can split up to use on two players.

But it's possible the Clippers might fall into the "taxpayer" mid-level exception of $3.183 million.

The Clippers would like to bring back free-agent small forward Matt Barnes, who has drawn interest from the Lakers, according to some executives.

The Clippers also want to re-sign Lamar Odom. But Odom will have to take less than the $8 million he made last season — probably the veteran's minimum of $1.399 million for a player with 10-plus years of experience.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

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Los Angeles ClippersChris PaulBasketballDoc RiversLamar OdomNBA
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