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Paul stays in L.A., Howard being wooed

Chris Paul's answer was brief, just like his time on the free agent market.

"I'M IN!!!" he wrote Monday on Twitter.

He will be staying with the Clippers, the longtime losers he helped turned into a division champion in just two seasons.

Dwight Howard will need more time to think.

Free agency opened Monday in the NBA with the focus on the two Los Angeles all-stars, though Paul, 28, took himself off the market hours later.

Agent Leon Rose confirmed Paul's return, which had been expected after the Clippers signed Doc Rivers as their new coach. The Clippers can pay the two-time Olympic gold medalist around $108 million for five years.

Howard, 27, can make even more by staying with the Lakers, but that won't stop him from looking elsewhere.

He met with the Rockets early Monday, the Mavericks and Hawks also are interested, and the Lakers have said repeatedly they want to keep him.

Houston got the first crack at persuading him to leave. Hawks general manager Danny Ferry and new coach Mike Budenholzer were visiting Howard later Monday, trying to convince him to join his hometown team.

And today, the former Magic star will meet the Lakers' delegation. His first season in Los Angeles was a disappointment, and he acknowledged being unhappy at times. But the Lakers want to keep the former defensive player of the year.

Contracts can't be signed until July 10, after the season's salary cap has been set.

Ainge says he won't deal Rondo: Celtics GM Danny Ainge, who recently sent Rivers to the Clippers and dealt Boston's biggest stars, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, to the Nets, said he's not interested in trading point guard Rajon Rondo. "Maybe the assumption is that we'll give away any of our players," Ainge said, listing not just Rondo but Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger and first-round draft pick Kelly Olynyk as players who have attracted interest. "There's been calls for all those guys. And maybe the assumption is we are just changing everybody, but we're not."

Bargnani trade: The Knicks and Raptors agreed in principle on a revised trade to bring 7-footer and former No. 1 overall draft pick Andrea Bargnani to New York, Newsday reported. Free agent Quentin Richardson was added to the deal and would go to Toronto in a sign-and-trade, along with Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, a 2016 first-round pick and second-rounders in 2014 and 2017. The deal would be official July 10.

Elsewhere: The Bulls agreed to a two-year deal for $6 million with forward Mike Dunleavy, the Chicago Tribune reported. … The Pelicans made an offer to restricted free agent Kings guard Tyreke Evans for four years and at least $40 million, AP reported. … Point guard Eric Maynor, who played for the Thunder and Blazers last season, said on Twitter that he agreed to a contract with Washington.

Paul stays in L.A., Howard being wooed 07/01/13 [Last modified: Monday, July 1, 2013 10:50pm]
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