You know that game that little girls play (maybe used to play – I have no idea what little kids do these days) where they pull petals off the flower to figure out if their crush really loves them? Maybe that’s what DeAndre Jordan has been doing this past week. “I love them, I love them not, I love them, I love them not”.
As a completely unbiased observer of the absurd ending to the DeAndre Jordan free agency saga I think I can provide some objective observations. So here’s my take:
Chandler’s on to something
Chandler Parsons, who was part of the recruiting team that went to visit DeAndre when he originally “agreed” to join the Mavs, spoke to ESPN yesterday when the news broke and had this to say:
“This is something that I’ve never seen in my career, and I know that it doesn’t happen very often. When a man gives you his word and an organization his word, especially when that organization put in so much effort and I walked him through this process and was very, very open and willing to work with him, it’s just very unethical and disrespectful.”
He’s got every right to be pissed off, as does everyone in the Mavs organization and that entire fan base. It’s a cowardly move to back out when you’ve given someone your word. Not to mention the fact that DeAndre ignored every attempt the Mavs made to contact him on Wednesday when news broke that he was having second thoughts about his decision. He treated them like they were the crazy chick he met at the club last weekend…”Oh hell no, no way I’m talking to that bitch”.
Phone calls, text messages…hell Mark Cuban and Parsons even flew down to Houston to try to meet with DeAndre on Wednesday but couldn’t see him because the Clippers refused to leave his place (smart move on their part by the way). This whole situation had the feel of an insane hostage situation…if I was the Mavs I would have called Kevin Spacey in to negotiate. He was able to talk Sam L. Jackson out of killing anyone, so maybe he could have coaxed Doc, CP3 and Blake out of the crib long enough for Cuban to work some magic. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be and now the Mavs are royally screwed. At the least the Clippers contingency was having fun on Wednesday night…
What it tells me about DeAndre
This whole debacle tells me that the dude has no freaking idea what the hell he wants. At the beginning of free agency he said the most important thing was going somewhere he could be “The Guy”. He wanted to be that franchise centerpiece that a team built around; the focal point of an offense. Well, maybe I’m missing something but I don’t see how that’s EVER going to happen on a squad where he’s running with Blake and CP3. Not to mention all the BS that got thrown around about his toxic relationship with Chris Paul. Funny how that was squashed by a short conversation at his house (all accounts are that the Clippers visit on Wednesday consisted of more video games and card-playing than actual recruiting/hashing out differences).
So now he’s done a complete 180 and decided that staying in L.A. is what he wants. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s the best place for him to be in terms of fit AND in terms of actually competing for a championship. It just didn’t seem like either of those were top priorities for DeAndre when this process started. Maybe he smartened up. Maybe he realized that staying in L.A. meant an extra $8 million over the course of his contract, since teams can pay more to keep their own free agents.
It also tells me that regardless of what he said publicly, he’s not ready to be a franchise guy. Frankly, he’s NOT that kind of player. He’s Ben Wallace, but obviously a helluva a lot more athletic. The dude can’t make a free throw, a jumper…all of his points come on lobs from CP3 or put-backs from offensive rebounds. He’s an insane athlete, a terrific defender and a ferocious rebounder. But, and I say BUT, he has no offensive game whatsoever and to me that doesn’t translate to a franchise centerpiece that you build your entire team around. I mean the Clips had to pull him off the floor at times during their playoff series vs Houston because the “hack-a-DeAndre” was crippling their offense. Hard to build your team around a guy that can’t be on the floor during crunch time because you’re scared he’ll get fouled. I think he made the best decision of his life by staying in L.A. where CP3 will get the most out of his freakish talents and he can get his while being the 3rd (or 4th) option to score. The fact that he’s a max contract guy now just epitomizes what’s wrong with the NBA…but that’s for another post.
So where does everyone go from here?
Well, the Clippers seem poised for another run at one of the top seeds in the West along with Golden State and San Antonio. If they stay healthy they should be in the mix to make a run at a championship next season. With the core of their squad back, and the addition of Paul Pierce, Doc appears to have all the pieces they need to atone for their epic collapse in the playoffs (which by the way nobody has given them enough heat for – does everyone forget that they were up 3-1 vs Houston AND up double digits in the 2nd half of game 5? One of the worst choke jobs I’ve ever seen). Clippers fans can feel good about having this guy in their uniform for at least 3 more seasons…
The Mavs meanwhile have thrown a max contract Wesley Matthews way, which would be more reasonable if he wasn’t coming off an ugly Achilles injury. Their biggest issues are a lack of all-around depth and playmakers. Devin Harris is a solid player, but with the PGs in the West he’s not good enough to match up with the likes of Westbrook, Parker, Paul or Curry. Plus in addition to having DeAndre spurn you like a prom night dumpster baby, you also had Tyson Chandler bolt for Phoenix…meaning you’re left with total garbage at the center position and an aging Nowitzki as your only frontcourt scorer. Good luck with that. The names left in free agency, and the trade market for that matter, are just not going to cut it. Reports are that D-Will wants a trade out of Brooklyn to re-join Dirk, so maybe Cuban can orchestrate that AND another move to keep them competitive. But with all the firepower in the West they seemed destined to finish on the outside looking in; in which case the 1st rounder the Celtics acquired for Rondo might have actual value now!