Heading into this summer’s NBA free agency market, we knew that we were venturing into unchartered waters. The robust influx of television revenue will expand the NBA economy over the next two years in ways that have never been seen before. With team salary caps increasing from $67 million to $89 million in 2016, and by an additional $19 million in 2017, the former accepted business model of player valuation and roster construction will soon be going the way of Dial-Up Internet services.
The biggest questions around player movement seemed to be where Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge would wind up. This class was viewed as an experimental dry-run and a mere appetizer to next summer, when Kevin Durant’s free agency turn comes.
But a funny thing happened during this dress rehearsal thanks to DeAndre Jordan’s decision to spurn the Clippers, agree to a contract with the Dallas Mavericks and then have second-thoughts about leaving Los Angeles before re-upping with the Clippers.
The entire bizarre saga – where the owner of the Clippers, the head coach and a number of players locked themselves inside Jordan’s Texas home over the last few days, keeping him away from Mark Cuban, his agent and other representatives of the Mavericks organization while they supposedly played cards and video games until the contract could be signed at midnight last night – has turned the city of Dallas more upside down than the 1980 shooting of J.R. Ewing.
Many people with a casual understanding of the game are asking, “Is this guy that good? What’s the big deal?”
DeAndre Jordan may play in the shadows of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin within the Clipper universe, but his skill set is incredibly valuable. He’s a defensive stud and a natural shot-blocker who is big, strong, rangy and athletic enough to neutralize the league’s ever-increasing proliferation of skilled perimeter big men.
As the two most recent NBA champions, the Spurs and the Warriors, have shown, the league’s winning formula has moved to spread offenses that function at elite levels with fast pace and exceptional ball-movement. The resulting missed defensive rotations cause these squads, and others that can pass, run and shoot with aplomb, to feast on their opponents slightest defensive inefficiencies.
But Jordan’s ability on the defensive end to protect the rim and roam outside of the paint are exceptional, because he can negate strong drives to the tin and contest any jumper due to his quickness and length. His defensive prowess covers up plenty of mistakes that his teammates make while guarding the ball.
And in Blake Griffin’s absence, when he missed time due to an elbow infection this year, Jordan put up some outstanding rebounding numbers while also increasing his offensive production.
Now if the guy could consistently make more than 50% of his free throws, along with having an arsenal of go-to moves in the paint other than “Catch Ball, Dunk Ball”, we might be looking at something really special. But his work during Griffin’s injury solidified his skyrocketing value as a coveted, max-level free agent this summer.
In a matter of a few days, though, he’s gone from a young, marginal NBA star to one of the most despised and vilified men in the sports universe. I find it quite humorous that people are angry at him, saying that he has no morals, no values, that he destroyed the Dallas franchise and lifted another in the same night.
C’mon people, the guy is 26 years old and experienced some indecision.
I understand that he didn’t live up to his word, and that his avoidance of Mark Cuban was problematic. Instead of telling the Mavs owner what was going on, he avoided him. Not cool, I understand.
And by tying up Dallas’ cap space with a slot that was reserved for his salary, the team missed out on other free agents that signed elsewhere under the assumption that the Mavericks were no longer a viable option.
Folks are ranting that Dirk Nowitzki’s final chance to win one more championship has been obliterated, how any chances of landing Kevin Durant or Mike Conley next summer is now effectively out of the window.
So, did you really think that Jordan and Wes Matthews, the team’s other significant free agent addition, would make Dallas better than Golden State, San Antonio and Oklahoma City next year? Did you think that Jordan was the final and missing piece to the Mavericks’ championship puzzle?
Let’s get real. Players have second-thoughts about major life decisions just like everyone else. Is it worth assassinating the guy’s character over? I hardly think so.
When Elton Brand pulled the okey-doke on the Clippers in 2008 in favor of more loot from Philadelphia, when Hedo Turkoglu left Portland holding the bag after his verbal agreement to sign there in 2009 and when Carlos Boozer played Three-Card Monte with the Cavs before jetting to Utah in 2004, the world didn’t end.
Philadelphia Eagles fans thought they had had a deal with Frank Gore, until he wound up signing for more cash with the Indianapolis Colts.
And this isn’t the sole province of players. Do you remember when Billy Donovan left the University of Florida to become the head coach of the Orlando Magic in 2007, signing a five-year, $27.5 million deal? Within a week, he had reservations, got out of the deal and went back to Gainesville.
How about Bill Belichick resigning from the New York Jets in 2000, two days after being named the head coach? People laughed and moved on. Belichick simply said that he wasn’t comfortable with the situation with the Jets. And who could blame him.
Folks are getting all caught up in their feelings today, as if DeAndre Jordan was Art Modell and moved the Browns out of Cleveland in 1996, or Robert Irsay who snuck the Baltimore Colts out of Maryland in the middle of the night in 1984.
We should be thanking DeAndre for giving us all of this excitement over the past few days. The fact of the matter is that none of the deals we heard about over the last few days were binding until contracts could be signed beginning today.
Folks have backed out of agreements before. One of life’s most valuable lessons is taught to us when we’re learning to wipe our butts, and that is that the job ain’t complete until the paperwork is done.
Get a grip, people, really. DeAndre Jordan didn’t kill the Dallas Mavericks. He simply killed the moratorium, which the NBA will certainly do away with to prevent this from happening again.
I can’t be angry at DeAndre Jordan for not feeling comfortable with his decision to go to Dallas. He had a window to re-consider before signing and that’s what he did.
It’s as simple as that.
Mavs fans and Mark Cuban have a right to be upset, but it’s not like they were gonna win a championship with the guy. I mean, he’s a wonderful young talent, but a championship’s missing link?
Have you ever seen him shoot free throws? Watching him at the charity stripe is more unpredictable then the ending to Carlito’s Way.
Relax people. Just calm down. Ya’ll must have gotten caught in a time warp and thought this was that other guy named Jordan.
You want to really get mad? Aron Baynes just signed a $20 million deal with Detroit, Kosta Koufos got $33 million from Sacramento and Omer Asik cashed in for $60 million with New Orleans. Where’s the damn outrage in that?
Welcome to the NBA’s New World Order, where close to 30 teams are projected to have significant cap room, aka money to burn, in 2016.
If you thought things got crazy this summer, you haven’t seen anything yet.