The Clippers’ ability to repeat this season’s success and avoid the awful stumble that took place in their first-round playoff loss will turn on the decision of one player.

Chris Paul.

No surprise there, right?

The 118-105 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night remained a hot topic on Saturday as players cleaned out their lockers and did their exit interviews. But moving forward won’t begin until there’s a sense of whether Paul plans to re-sign or will test the waters as an unrestricted free agent.

“I’m going to let him make his decision,” teammate Caron Butler said. “But I don’t think there’s another place he’d be more happy than the Clippers.”

Even if that’s true, there was no consolation after the Clippers’ 4-2 series loss to the Grizzlies, a defeat that brought their banner season to a sudden halt. The Clippers set a franchise record with 56 regular-season wins and their first Pacific Division title, but they were outplayed and out-hustled by a Memphis team that recovered from a 2-0 deficit in the best-of-seven series.

“This is unreal,” Paul said glumly. “We only played two weeks longer that everybody else who didn’t make the playoffs. It sucks, it stings. We’re still supposed to be playing.”

Their disappointment comes because of failed expectations. The Clippers were among the favorites to advance far in the Western Conference playoffs after going on a team-record 17-game winning streak and starting 32-9. But they needed a late-season surge to claim the No. 4 seed and were crushed by a Grizzlies team that was tougher and more aggressive.

“I don’t care what kind of streak you go on,” Paul said. “It has nothing to do with the playoffs. December and May don’t go together at all.”

The Clippers couldn’t match the rugged interior play of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, who controlled the boards and made too many easy baskets. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan was a non-factor in the series after a regular season was that largely forgettable. Blake Griffin tried to play with a high right ankle sprain but was limited to 13 minutes.