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

“I’M IN!!!” he wrote Monday on Twitter.

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

Center Dwight Howard will need more time to think.

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Free agency opened in the NBA with the focus on the pair of Los Angeles All-Stars, though Paul took himself off the market hours after shopping season started.

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 Paul around $108 million for five years.

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

He met with the Houston Rockets early Monday. The Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks also are interested, and the Lakers have said repeatedly they want to keep him.

With Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler joining its contingent, Houston pitched Howard on joining All-Star guard James Harden.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey wrote on Twitter that it was a great meeting with Howard and that having Olajuwon and Drexler there “made it obvious how (Howard and Harden) could be the next (great) big/wing combo.”

Howard is to meet Tuesday with the Lakers’ delegation. His first — perhaps only — 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, believing the extra year and about $30 million more they can give him will provide a huge advantage.

Steve Nash, who like Howard had a difficult first season in Los Angeles, tweeted Monday that he was flying from New York to Los Angeles to help the Lakers make their pitch.

“(Dwight Howard) we’re coming for you,” the guard wrote. “You’re going to love the statue we build for you outside Staples in 20yrs!”

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

The Hawks also were expected to meet with their unrestricted free agents, Josh Smith and Kyle Korver, on their trip to Los Angeles, a source said on condition of anonymity.


• Swingman Terrence Williams, 26, a former standout at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, was waived by the Boston Celtics. He was guaranteed $200,000 from the team if it hadn’t waived him by the start of free agency, The Boston Globe reported.

Nate McMillan, 48, a former Sonics coach and guard, has been named associate head coach of the Indiana Pacers, who are coached by Frank Vogel.

• The New Orleans Pelicans reportedly offered restricted free-agent guard Tyreke Evans, 23, a four-year deal worth about $44 million. Evans averaged 15.2 points for Sacramento last season.

• Chicago and forward Mike Dunleavy Jr., 32, reportedly agreed on a two-year deal worth about $6 million. Dunleavy averaged 10.5 points for Milwaukee last season.

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