Pfffffffft.

That’s the sound of the air going out of the Mavericks’ slim hopes of landing Chris Paul. The Clippers essentially locked up the perennial All-Star point guard by trading for the right to give former Celtics coach Doc Rivers a $7 million-per-season contract, as ESPNBoston's Jackie MacMullan reported.

It was always a long shot to pull CP3 away from L.A., where he has a talented supporting cast and can get about $30 million more guaranteed than the Mavs could offer.

The Mavs had to hope that Donald Sterling, who has three decades of experience as the worst owner in sports, would figure out a way to screw this up. Instead, other than essentially pointing the finger at Paul for firing an over-his-head head coach, Sterling stayed out of the way and handed his wallet over to the Clippers’ competent basketball decision-makers.

Rivers’ arrival in Los Angeles will give the Clippers a coach that is immensely respected by Paul, who reportedly lobbied hard when talks with the Celtics repeatedly hits speed bumps. Paul no longer would have to re-locate to play for a coach of Rick Carlisle’s caliber.

It’s to be determined whether the Clippers and Celtics attempt to make the other deal they were discussing, a center swap that would ship athletic but raw DeAndre Jordan to Boston for fiery, old future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett. The league office might reject that deal.