That wasn't the way things were supposed to go for Paul and the Clippers. Not after setting a franchise record with 56 wins. Not after getting a rematch with the Grizzlies, the same team they beat in the first round a year ago. Not after winning the first two games of the series.
But four consecutive losses, an early exit from Game 6 and questions about whether Paul will ever wear a Clippers uniform again is how Los Angeles' season ended.
Paul is a free agent this summer and while he has teamed with Blake Griffin to turn the Clippers from laughingstock into Lob City, a competitive, fun, highlight-reel lover's dream. He's a star in Los Angeles, living in the Southern California sun and credited (fairly or not) with single-handedly making the franchise respectable for the first time.
After Game 6, Paul didn't seem particularly interested in how far the Clippers have come, though.
"There's nothing to take away from it," Paul responded when asked about the franchise-best season. "We lost. it is what it is. Our season is over."
This marks the second consecutive season that the Clippers have failed to make a dent in the postseason. Sure, they won their first-round series last year, but they were swept by the Spurs in the second round and looked nothing like a contender. This year, they didn't even make it that far.
Is the stardom, Southern California sun and progress the Clippers have made enough to convince Paul to re-sign with the team? Maybe so, or maybe Paul is convinced that the team is going in the right direction with Griffin, De'Andre Jordan and the rest of the crew and will be contenders next season. Or maybe Paul will be swayed by the millions of dollars the Clippers can offer him that no other team in the league can.
Whatever Paul is thinking about his status next season, he refused to tip his hand.
"I've got a lot of time to think about that," Paul said .I'll consult with my wife, my parents, my family. I might even let little Chris chime in. We'll see what happens."
Without Paul, the Clippers would have to try building around Griffin, an wonderful player in his own right, but hardy the player that Paul is. Lob City will be gone and so will the buzz in Los Angeles. The Clippers, as we have come to know them in the last two seasons, would be dead.
And it would all end with an ejection, a dismissive motion towards the refs and a slow walk down the tunnel.