Storyline: DeAndre Jordan Free Agency

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Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t surprised Irving, Durant and even DeAndre Jordan chose the Nets. Jordan was Smith’s teammate in Dallas and New York last season. “I wasn’t surprised, to be honest with you. People in the league talk anyway. They just keep it private. People in the league talk,” Smith said. “They’re great players but I like what we have, to be honest with you. I know there are a lot of hecklers out there and talking this that and the third. But I like what we have and I’m not really concerned with what’s going on in Brooklyn.”

The Nets are expected to meet with free agent forward Tobias Harris and also have DeAndre Jordan and Justin Holiday among the free agents on their radar, league sources told The Athletic. Harris embodies everything the Brooklyn Nets desire on and off the court. The Long Island native is a multi-positional player who can score in pick-and-roll sets and spread the floor on offense. On defense, he’s an above-average rebounder. In the locker room, Harris is coachable and has adapted to several roles while playing for five teams in his eight-year career. He comes in early and stays late in the gym.

Meanwhile, All-Star Kyrie Irving is fully focused on a potential deal with the Brooklyn Nets, league sources have told The Athletic. League sources say the Nets’ goals center upon forming a trio of Irving, Durant and free-agent center DeAndre Jordan. That is part of the intrigue in Brooklyn, the ability to take one commitment from Irving and turn it into the capability to sign all three. A trio of that magnitude should compete for multiple NBA championships in the Eastern Conference.

“(GM) Scott Perry and (president) Steve (Mills) had a lot to do with that as well,” Fizdale said. “(DeAndre) sees a situation as a good situation for this year, having a real purpose, and possibly in the future. He’s like having another coach on the bench.” Asked why he decided to stick, Jordan said, “You want me to leave? Why do you keep asking me that? It’s what the league is about. It’s a fraternity. You learn from older guys like I learned from Marcus. Anytime you can help a younger player out that’s what you’re supposed to do. He’s playing well. We’ve played against each other in practice a lot. Its tough battles. He’s talking more. It’s something we all love to see.

A better fit would be New York Knicks center DeAndre Jordan, who the Lakers are eyeing before the March 1 playoff-eligibility waiver deadline. The Dallas Mavericks sent Jordan to New York in the Kristaps Porzingis trade. With the 11-47 Knicks focused on (or tanking for) the draft lottery, why wouldn’t they let him out of his contract to join a contender? The Knicks recently bought out guard Wesley Matthews, who then signed with the Indiana Pacers, but Jordan remains in New York.

He is on a $22.9 million expiring deal and will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer, so the Knicks – who have hopes of signing Durant and another max star – may not be able to bring Jordan back. But they could also use the mid-level exception (almost $9 million per season) to sign Jordan this summer, so it’s certainly possible. The Knicks have another of Durant’s buddies – Royal Ivey – as an assistant coach. Ivey and Durant were teammates on the Thunder for two seasons. Durant once called Ivey his best friend in the league.

However, Fizdale said he feels Jordan — and even the defensive-minded Matthews — can have a future with the Knicks. Even if the Knicks use up their cap space on mega free agents, they could offer Jordan, a two-time all-defensive selection and former All-Star, their $5 million room exception. “Both of those guys have played some [playoff] series on some really good basketball teams,” Fizdale said. “And who knows what the future holds for these guys? They’re ours now, free agents at the end of the year, but who knows? I want them to come here and enjoy the process with us and really help the young guys.”

A more immediate impact could come after the trade deadline, when the center-heavy Knicks could buy out Jordan’s contract, making him a free agent. A reunion with the Clippers is a definite possibility. The team could use more rebounding, and Jordan could rebuild some of his defensive reputation by helping the Clippers in an area where they struggle. Jordan would like to return to Los Angeles, and he’s still close with coach Doc Rivers. Some NBA scouts believe a pairing with the Lakers, perhaps next summer, makes sense for Jordan, too.

In the land of second chances, the Mavericks have made it clear they are in a forgiving mood, reversing field to become major threats for free-agent-to-be DeAndre Jordan. Management extended a qualifying offer to Doug McDermott on Tuesday, but then took it off the table when news broke about the Los Angeles Clippers trading for center Marcin Gortat from Washington. An NBA source said that the Mavericks need the roughly $10-million salary-cap hold that McDermott would have required if he had OK’d the qualifying offer and become a restricted free agent.

Part of the forgiveness is simply a matter of time healing wounds. In recent days, we’ve already seen one of the grandest “hug it outs” in franchise history as Mavs owner Mark Cuban participated in a make-up session with agent Bill Duffy, an organizational nemesis for a decade-and-a-half, the result of Duffy guiding Steve Nash away from the Mavs and to the Suns. The fact that this time around, Duffy was, sources tell me, a key participant in the NBA Draft night swap that brought his client Luka Doncic to Dallas via a trade with Atlanta, is a miracle of sorts. If the Mavs can reunite with Duffy, they can certainly do so with Jordan — who happens to be repped by agent Jeff Schwartz, who unlike Duffy has always been very Mavs-friendly.

The 10-year veteran, who was the subject of trade talks around last year’s deadline involving him and Clint Capela—talks which went nowhere due to Houston’s desire to keep Capela— has remained focused on the possibility of playing in Houston, two league sources told Rockets Wire. The sources requested anonymity because they are unauthorized to speak on the record about Jordan’s intentions. According to one source, Jordan was in the ears of multiple Rockets players throughout the 2017-2018 season, expressing his longtime desire to play in his hometown.

According to one source, Jordan was in the ears of multiple Rockets players throughout the 2017-2018 season, expressing his longtime desire to play in his hometown. The source also detailed the events surrounding the infamous Clippers-Rockets postgame locker room altercation earlier in January. According to the source, after the altercation, Jordan spoke to multiple Rockets players on the team bus, citing frustration with the Clippers organization and a strong desire to leave.

Mavs to pursue DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan and Julius Randle?

Ever since word spread in league circles in March that Dirk Nowitzki would return to the Mavericks for his 21st season, there have also been rumblings that the Dallas front office will look to make additions this summer that can put the team back on a winning track. The Mavericks can create space to sign a max free agent, and multiple league sources expect them to pursue a trio of big men: DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins, and restricted free agent Julius Randle. If the Mavericks do indeed plan to pursue expensive bigs in free agency, then it’d make sense to target a primary scorer, like Porter, rather than Bamba.

In the team’s final game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Rivers inserted forward/center Montrezl Harrell and pulled Jordan out of the game for the final time of the season, and potentially, for the final time as a member of the Clippers. Jordan and Rivers then shared an embrace; a lengthy, 10 second hug with pats on the back and it was clear some emotions were coming out in the process. “I basically told him I love him,” explained Rivers. “DJ’s been great for me. We don’t know what he’s going to do and that could possibly be the last game. I hope not obviously. DJ and I are very close. I challenged him when I took this job. I asked him to be one of the best defensive players, once of the best rebounders, and he took that title and ran with it. I’m just proud of him. He’s like a kid to me.

DeAndre Jordan is the last player standing from the greatest era in Clippers history, which would feel strange if he hadn’t also preceded all of those Blake Griffin in-your-face throw-downs and Paul no-look dimes. Lob City might be resting in peace, but Jordan has already defied the usual expectancy of a Clipper. He has worn the uniform for an unprecedented 10 years, becoming an unlikely mainstay who has outlasted All-Stars and journeymen alike. “I’m here and that’s what I’m focused on,” Jordan told Yahoo Sports. “I’m excited. Like I told somebody the other day, I hope I can play another 10 years here. That’s what I’m focused on now.”

DeAndre Jordan came close to being dealt to the Cavaliers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, but the deal fell through because the Clippers were unwilling to absorb Iman Shumpert’s salary. This makes the summer ahead that much more interesting for Jordan. With the salary cap flattening, only seven teams are expected to have over $10 million in cap space. There were 10 such teams last summer and 25 in 2016, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks and Brian Windhorst recently wrote. A dearth of free-agent funds will lead to a hard choice for Jordan, who has a player option worth $24.1 million for the 2018-19 season. But multiple league executives think it’s unlikely that he’d receive that type of money annually on the open market. Most of the teams that are expected to have money, like the Hawks, 76ers, and Nets, don’t need an expensive 30-year-old rim-running center, and the teams that do need one won’t have to pay him max money.

Multiple executives and agents think DeAndre Jordan’s decision might depend more on where he wants to play than the money he can make. Jordan said on February 9 that he wants to be somewhere he’s wanted, and he doesn’t know whether that can be said about the Clippers. Still, you need to be careful about the emotional roller coaster players experience ahead of free agency. Jordan might not have been happy to have been shopped in January and February, but things can change by June.

David Aldridge: Wizards’ interest in @DeAndre Jordan, like almost every other team—maybe not the Cavs—would be predicated on him opting in for 2018-19 ($24.1M) rather than opting out to become UFA. From what I’ve heard thus far, Jordan has given no indication to anyone that he’d be willing to do that. Jordan hired Jeff Schwartz—perhaps the most powerful agent in the NBA—last year. You generally don’t do that if you’re just going to opt in next summer rather than opt out and seek a max/near max contract.

One of the roadblocks for a team to trade for him is his contract situation as he could become a free agent by the summer. Teams do not see this as a good sign, as he could turn out to be a very risky loan for them, and could give up assets without the guarantee of him re-signing with them. That was also part of the report made by Zach Lowe of ESPN, as he stated that Jordan would be even more appealing if he opted into his contract for next season. Interest leaguewide would be higher if Jordan signaled he might opt into his deal for next season, but that hasn’t happened, sources say.

How are you taking teammate DeAndre Jordan’s pending free-agency situation? Blake Griffin: This is his second time being in this situation. Before that he was a restricted free agent. Each time I’ve told him the same thing. He knows and he’ll know the exact same thing about how I feel about him and how much we want him to be here, to be a Clipper for life. But at the end of the day, he has a family and he has to make the decision that is best for him. Whatever that is, I’ll support him. He’ll know how much we want him here.
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