During a recent episode of The Lowe Post podcast with NBA analyst Zach Lowe, he suggested the Los Angeles Lakers look at DeAndre Jordan.
After the Clippers traded Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons, it would not be surprising to see the team continue to rebuild their roster for either future cap space or other quantifiable assets.
Los Angeles has tried to clear their cap room for two max contracts. But now that DeMarcus Cousins is severely injured with a ruptured Achilles tendon, the Lakers’ options are seemingly limited to LeBron James and Paul George (unless they aim for lower-tier free agents).
Meanwhile, in Oklahoma City, it seems that looming George is more committed to the Thunder than ever after recent unprompted positive comments about his teammate Russell Westbrook.
Lowe argued that Jordan’s crosstown rival may be interested in acquiring him because he would immediately help them attract other players to sign in the offseason, rather than Cousins or George (via ESPN):
“Everyone is saying, ‘They need two max slots! They need two max slots! They need to clear cap space.’ … The other avenue for them is if you don’t think you are going to get those two max guys … get someone in the door now who’s good. Use that to try to get the next one. If I were them, I’d look at DJ. He’s not a star, but he is someone a lot of people would like to play with.”
As noted by Lowe, the current core in Los Angeles with Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram is nice. But it’s not going to contend with the Golden State Warriors for a championship next season, even if they added a dynamic superstar like James.
The question becomes whether a core of Jordan and a max player with Ball, Ingram and Kuzma is better than the three young players and whoever they can entice in free agency?
If they added someone stellar on defense and in the post like Jordan, they immediately provide something that the Warriors cannot match up with if they had two dominant players in the paint.
The best games that Cleveland had led by James against Golden State were the ones when they played well on defense. Ball, though now a rookie, is an underrated perimeter defender. Jordan, meanwhile, is a two-time All-NBA Defensive First-Team caliber player.
If the Clippers want out of the contract for Jordan, it sounds crazy, but a trade involving Brook Lopez or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (who both have expiring contracts) would work to match the salaries. The Lakers would likely send a future first-round draft pick in such a deal.
Or if the Clippers like 25-year-old guard Jordan Clarkson, they could pair him with Corey Brewer (and his expiring contract) as well as future draft picks in exchange for Jordan.
During the same podcast with Lowe, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported the Lakers have received offers for Clarkson and Julius Randle:
“They’ve had offers where they can potentially get a first-round pick back. But then you don’t save any money on salary … which means you do one trade now and then package whatever you’ve got [for future deals].”
Perhaps they could get rid of the space for Clarkson to land a first-round pick and then offer that for Jordan. Even though Jordan does have a big contract, this gives the Lakers a magnetic core moving forward. The Clippers would be free of the big salary and could spend freely to rebuild their roster.
The big man is one of the five most efficient players in the league (1.25 points per possession) as the roll man in a pick-and-roll offense when compared to other players with as many opportunities.
He is the second-most efficient player (1.45 PPP) when cutting to the basket so far this season. All of those categories were areas where he was fantastic last season when he was an All-Star in the Western Conference.
While the likely suitors for Jordan will include the Cleveland Cavaliers as well as the Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Trail Blazers, don’t be surprised if the Lakers emerge in this conversation for these reasons as well.