The NBA still waits for LaMarcus Aldridge’s decisions, but one other huge name is ready to end his run in free agency. Per reports, big man DeAndre Jordan is ready to announce that he’ll be leaving the Los Angeles Clippers to play for the Dallas Mavericks. The deal is expected to be a four-year pact worth roughly $80 million.
Jordan sat through a 4.5 hour meeting with the Mavs yesterday and clearly liked what Mark Cuban and co. had to say, and it looks like he’ll be joining the likes of Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons in Dallas. For a team that finished seventh and made the NBA playoffs last year, landing Chandler is a solid get that could launch them into title contention. Jordan isn’t a total lock to seal the deal in their bid for another championship run, though, and Dallas can’t be done working on their roster if they want to get there.
Chandler Out, DJ In
This was a big move for two reasons. Jordan is obviously a heck of a talent and at 26 years old represents a fantastic long-term investment at one of the most crucial positions in the NBA. Jordan has his issues with free throws and won’t be sinking mid-range jumpers, but he’s an alley-oop and put-back machine and could be a terror with the pick-and-roll. Just as important, he’s a menace on defense, as he can clean the glass, block and alter shots and lay a body when he has to. The second part is just as key, as the Mavs let the older and less reliable Tyson Chandler walk (he signed with the Phoenix Suns), firmly putting all of their eggs in the DJ basket. It worked out in the end, and instead of having a huge hole to fill, the Mavericks can feel great about their post game and start improving the roster elsewhere.
So, why Dallas? Los Angeles could have offered Jordan more money and it’s a place he knows and loves, but there were two big things he wasn’t a fan of. One was an apparent rift with star point guard Chris Paul. Paul supposedly questioned his work ethic and drive when it came to improving his awful free throw shooting. DJ took that personal and playing with the ultra competitive CP3 may have taken it’s toll in general. Even bigger may have been the fact that the Clippers have tons of offensive weapons and Jordan’s offensive role was basically limited to alley-oops and put-backs. In Dallas, he’ll supposedly have a much larger role.
Impact in Dallas
It’s fair to wonder what an expanded offensive role means for Jordan. At 26, he still has a high ceiling and it’s entirely possible more attempts at the rim end up showing him to be a fantastic offensive player. Then again, he can’t shoot very well and is even worse at the charity stripe, so this could go, oh, so horribly. The floor isn’t that low, though, especially because there is a ton of good he brings to the table – especially if he actually puts in the work to cure his free throw problem.
The big question, though, beyond Jordan’s statistical impact or exact role, is if his presence hypothetically dramatically changes the Mavs’ playoff and/or title odds. Considering we saw a banged up Thunder squad barely miss out on the playoffs last year, I’m not sure anyone in a super stacked Western Conference is ever going to be “guaranteed” anything. One thing we do know, though, is that Dallas was a terrific offense a year ago that paired it’s up-tempo game with a horrific defense. Jordan can help keep that offense flowing, while giving the defense a mean streak that Tyson Chandler maybe offered at a less consistent rate.
But Jordan can’t be the final piece in free agency. He’s an upgrade on Chandler for 2015 and beyond, but if he’s their last big move, they’re not going to ascend much higher than the 7th spot from a year ago. Nowitzki can score still but he’s aging fast and Chandler Parsons is more of a solid role player than a superstar. This team still needs a true point guard and they lost a ton of offense with Monta Ellis going to Indiana. They need another legit scoring presence (unless they truly believe DJ is a 20+ ppg guy) and they need a reliable point guard (Devin Harris and Raymond Felton aren’t it).
Cuban and the Mavs are turning down the right path and this is a great move, as it cripples the Clippers and bolsters their own front line. With Wesley Matthews also likely in the fold, the Mavs creep closer to becoming the team they were trying to be when free agency starter. They could now be one more big move from leaping out in front of the entire Western Conference.