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Chris Paul is not going to return to New Orleans as a free agent this coming summer

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And please, quit making bad comparisons to LeBron James and his return to Cleveland.

San Antonio Spurs v New Orleans Hornets Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

When LeBron James, the prodigal son, returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers nearly three years ago, he was widely applauded for writing the words, “I’m coming home.”

Please, stop waiting to hear the same phrase come out of Chris Paul’s mouth in reference to New Orleans this summer.

While a return would make for a fantastic story and be fun to contemplate CP3’s intriguing fit alongside Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, it’s thoroughly unwise to rationally believe CP3 will entertain donning a Pelicans uniform for the 2017-18 season. Yes, this even with him staring squarely at a consecutive first round elimination from the postseason and six straight years of failing to reach the conference finals in Los Angeles.

Let’s start with the obvious: Paul would willingly have to accept a sizable pay cut and lose a year of contract security in order to leave the Clippers. On July 1, 2017, Paul can become the NBA’s first $200 million dollar man by signing a 5-year maximum offer sheet valued at around $210 million.

It’s true not all players reach for the biggest pile of money, especially veterans who have already pocketed millions and millions, however, consider the fact that CP3 is the president of the player’s union who just recently had a say in the new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement. There were numerous changes made but the one you need to focus on is the over-36 clause morphing into the over-38 rule. Per Tom Ziller last December:

The dividends for CP3 — assuming he wants to remain with the Clippers, and the Clippers want to keep him — are immediately evident. For all practical purposes, under the Over-36 Rule Paul would have been looking at a max contract of four years, $156 million.

Under the Over-38 Rule, he’s looking at a max contract of five years, $201 million.

In other words, because of this one simple rule change, this summer Chris Paul can potentially lock in $45 million in guaranteed salary for the season in which he turns 37 years old.

That’s an incredible difference in contract sizes, and $45 million is a tidy sum no player will likely ever be offered at age 37 based solely on merit or otherwise!

The 2016 ESPYS - Show Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Guess who else stands to benefit from this new rule? That’s right, two other union leaders, James and Carmelo Anthony — incidentally two of Paul’s closest friends in the NBA — who both will hit free agency in the summer of 2018. There’s no way that they and CP3 will fail to utilize the recently negotiated over-38 clause.

Still have lingering doubts? Well, just a few months after word of this new rule was made public, Steve Kyler gave notice of the existence of a verbal agreement between Paul and the Clippers.

While Knicks fan often dream of a Carmelo Anthony-Paul tandem, it’s not going to happen. Sources close to the process said that it’s already been verbally agreed to and it’s simply a function of the calendar and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement kicking in.

Then earlier this month, the same notion was reiterated to Forbes.

For months word has been out that Paul, who turns 32 in May, has agreed to a five-year extension that will top the $200 million mark. As one industry source told Forbes.com recently, “It’s all done, with a wink and a nod.’’

Paul has several times in the past made mention of the importance of his brand. The image he has built during his NBA career is highly marketable so you can be sure he won’t pull a DeAndre Jordan stunt, especially after witnessing the center’s debacle with Cuban’s Mavericks two years ago.

On the flip side of the coin, the Clippers know they can’t Paul walk out the door. He is the engine that makes their team go. Without his talents, players like Jordan and J.J. Redick lose quite a bit of value because they need to play along one of the best passers in the game. No, if L.A. is interested in really shaking things up from a personnel standpoint, Blake Griffin is the most logical choice to find himself on a different team. Remember, he was the one involved in trade rumors for over the last year, so hey, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Lastly, for all those undying optimists who think it possible CP3 will ignore the extra money and kick his brand to the curb, please realize that New Orleans is not Chris Paul’s home.

Both CP3 and his wife, Jada Crawley, are from North Carolina and they met at Wake Forest. They were married in — you guessed it — North Carolina because Jada felt it was important to tie the knot where they first laid eyes on one another, not New Orleans where CP3 had called home for the previous four years.

And, having now spent six seasons with the Clippers, it’s readily apparent Los Angeles has become the Paul’s new home. Byron Scott claimed CP3 fell in love with the city right away. Two seasons ago, Paul said that he wanted to retire a Clipper. Plus, he already has his eye on the future, preparing for a business career after his playing days are over. Which city makes more practical sense from a business standpoint: New Orleans or L.A.?

Although Paul is still involved with some charity work here in Louisiana, he has more undertakings in North Carolina and California. Moreover, don’t forget how negatively he viewed the brand change from the Hornets to the Pelicans.

Paul said during Friday’s NBA All-Star media availability that the impending name change, new colors and logo are going to make him feel like the franchise no longer will exist the way he knew it as when he played his first six seasons with the Hornets.

"I think the thing with the name change that’s tough is that it almost feels like I played for another team, you know," Paul said. "The New Orleans Hornets for me they don’t exist."

After owner Tom Benson officially announced last month the Hornets would become the Pelicans, Paul wrote on his Twitter page: Pelicans??? `I’m not rolling.’

Honestly, were Paul to surprise everyone and leave Los Angeles, I don’t believe New Orleans would even rank atop his wishlist. Whether from a personal, business or winning perspective, destinations like San Antonio, New York and even Miami seem to make a lot more sense.

I still vividly remember once reading how he described his first go around in New Orleans as an up-and-down journey. There’s no way that’s going to be followed by a sequel.