That NBA free agent moratorium period is an insider’s buffet. Teams can’t say anything about anybody. Sources are being treated to five-star dinners and being given their first Uber ride for free. Or something like that.
I presume the biggest free agents are also getting treated to five-star dishes and different exotic fishes. And in my book, the biggest fish in the free agent ocean is Los Angeles Clippers C DeAndre Jordan.
Sure, Portland Trail Blazers PF LaMarcus Aldridge is the four-time All-Star and the 2nd team All-NBA forward, while Jordan was on the All-NBA 3rd team and hasn’t been an All-Star yet. But Aldridge turns 30 this month, while Jordan turns only 27 this month, and Jordan was the NBA All-Defensive first team center this past season.
The Clippers got a chance to meet with Jordan on Thursday night. It is reportedly his final meeting, after hearing from the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, and the top contender for Jordan’s services, Dallas Mavericks.
Clippers’ meeting with DeAndre Jordan is about to begin. It will be his last meeting. I’m hearing Jordan could make a decision by tomorrow.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 2, 2015
The Clippers and Mavericks are the favorites to land Jordan but I’m told the Lakers and Knicks haven’t been ruled out. — Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 3, 2015
Here’s the deal. If Jordan wants to be an All-Star, he’d go to the Eastern Conference. Jordan could have signed with the Milwaukee Bucks and slid into the 6 in mid-February 2016. Alas, the Bucks appear to have agreed with Greg Monroe. The centers in the Western Conference that take All-Star consideration from Jordan (Marc Gasol, DeMarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard) aren’t going anywhere.
If it’s touches Jordan wants, then it looks like the Mavericks are going to set Jordan up better. Although, it would be unchartered territory for Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle to give a center 10 shots a game; the last time the nominal center in Dallas averaged double-digit field goal attempts a game was when Don Nelson started Dirk Nowitzki at the pivot in 2003-2004. Perhaps Carlisle can ensure Jordan gets the touches that will come with Nowitzki’s age and the imminent departure of Monta Ellis. Dallas also appears to have agreed to terms with Wesley Matthews.
Wes Matthews has agreed in principle with the Mavericks on a four-year deal, per source. Turned down huge offer from Sacramento.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 3, 2015
The Clippers have also made a move during the moratorium period, agreeing to terms with Washington Wizards SF Paul Pierce on a three-year deal:
#Clippers have agreed to a deal with Paul Pierce, per NBA source
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) July 1, 2015
Pierce only averaged nine shots per game last season, and the Clippers will be his fourth team in as many years; Matt Barnes averaged eight shots a game last season, so expect Pierce’s shots to decline for a fourth straight season. The Clippers also have J.J. Redick under contract, and he’s healthier than Matthews (Achilles). Obviously Blake Griffin is going to be the primary interior option for the Clippers, but Griffin and Jordan are tight, and not just because Griffin is the best big man passer in the game.
Blake & DJ hang out almost every day in the summer. They've talked. No need to sit at the opposite side of a table for 3 hours and sell him.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 3, 2015
In the end, this is about Chris Paul and Jordan. After four seasons together, would the best traditional PG in the NBA be the reason Jordan goes to Texas? Relationships are everything, so it’s a real possibility. And this was a lasting image of the Paul/Jordan dynamic:
The Clippers would be crushed if Jordan bounces because of the same quality that the Clippers franchise was lacking for most of their inept franchise history. I don’t care whether or not Paul and Jordan met last week. In Los Angeles, Paul sets the tone for this team on the floor. Jordan won’t have to worry about that in Dallas, for better or worse.
And to be clear, it’s probably going to be for worse if Jordan goes to a Dallas team that currently has only Devin Harris and Raymond Felton under contract to play point guard. Chandler Parsons is coming off knee surgery. Sure, Pierce will be 38 in October, but his 1998 draft mate Nowitzki will be 38 next June. And for as much credit as Carlisle gets, he has chewed out PGs and Cs left and right over the last four seasons, none of which have resulted in a postseason victory for the Mavericks.
But it’s DJ’s decision. He’s a free agent. I’m expecting him to leave the Clippers, most likely for Dallas. We’ll talk about contingency plans when that happens. The best basketball fit for Jordan is with the Clippers; but some things are bigger than basketball. Like going home (or, at least, your home state).