Less than a week after enjoying one of their greatest days in the franchise’s 35-year history, the Dallas Mavericks are now in the midst of one of their worst nightmares.
Last Friday, Los Angeles Clippers free-agent center DeAndre Jordan told Mavericks owner Mark Cuban that he was going to sign a four-year, $81 million contract with Dallas. But with a lot of time to think about his decision, Jordan had second thoughts, and called a meeting with the Clippers.
On Wednesday, in one of the weirdest days in the history of NBA free-agency, Jordan reversed fields and instead decided to sign a five-year, $110 million contract with the Clippers.
The stunning reversal has certainly miffed the Mavericks, who thought they had finally landed the first “big fish” free agent in franchise history when they got Jordan to verbally agree to join the team. But sources said it was Jordan who called the Clippers and told them he was thinking about returning to the team he’s been with since his NBA career started in 2008.
Of Jordan’s decision to spurn the Mavericks and return to the Clippers, a source said: “This says a lot about DeAndre. It says a whole lot about him.”
The departure of Jordan leaves the Mavericks in a position where they need a top-flight center to compete in the Western Conference, or else they might be headed to the draft lottery next spring. It also leaves them questioning the league’s moratorium period and the way it’s set up for something like this to occur.
From July 1-8, teams can negotiate contracts with players, but only non-binding agreements are in place during that period. Once the moratorium was lifted at 11:01 p.m., teams could begin signing contracts. Only after those contracts are signed are they binding.
Usually, once a player verbally commits to a team, other franchisesusually stop pursuit of those players. However, since sources said it was Jordan who first contacted the Clippers, the team then figured, why not see what he has to say?
Clippers coach/president Doc Rivers, owner Steve Ballmer, and players Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and Paul Pierce traveld to Jordan’s off-season home in Houston for a Wednesday afternoon meeting.
After Jordan’s meeting with the Clippers, Cuban was slated to meet with Jordan, a source said. However, the Clippers stayed at Jordan’s home and waited for him to sign a contract with the Clippers at 11:01 p.m.
Meanwhile, forward Chandler Parsons and Cuban expected to get one final meeting with Jordan before the moratorium was lifted. That meeting never took place, and Cuban started telling Mavericks employees that Jordan had changed his mind and was headed back to the Clippers after the center refused to return Cuban’s repeated phone calls and text messages.
Jordan turning his back on Cuban hampers the Mavericks on many levels. Dallas didn’t pursue their own free-agent center, Tyson Chandler, because Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Jordan were plans 1A and 1B on their free-agent list.
Aldridge wound up signing with the San Antonio Spurs. Meanwhile, Chandler agreed to a four-year, $52 million contract with the Phoenix Suns.
The Mavericks rejoiced when Jordan agreed to sign a contract with Dallas. But that turned out to be a hollow promise by Jordan, a Houston native who played one season at Texas A&M.
Meanwhile, without Jordan, the Mavs might just start a rebuilding process — something Cuban said he would do if Jordan hadn’t agreed to sign with Dallas.
Also, the Mavs now know that the ill-fated trade last Dec. 18 for Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo just may get worst, because of Thursday’s decision by Jordan. In that trade, the Mavs sent a protected 2016 first-round draft pick to the Celtics.
Unless that draft pick is among the first seven selections, it will go to the Celtics.
In other words, a poorer record by the Mavs next season increases the chances of that draft pick being 1-7. All of this, in essence, would not have been a topic of conversation had Jordan kept his word and signed with the Mavs.
At the end of the day Wednesday, the Mavs have struck out yet again during free agency, despite again having enormous salary cap space. Salary cap space that blew up in their face with a stunning decision by DeAndre Jordan.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760
On second thought
DeAndre Jordan’s 11th-hour change of mind isn’t unprecedented in NBA free agency. Recent examples of stunning reversals:
July 2004: Forward Carlos Boozer was made an unrestricted free agent by Cleveland believing he would re-sign for its mid-level exception. Instead, Boozer signed a six-year, $68 million offer from the Utah Jazz.
July 2009: One day after giving a verbal commitment to Portland, forward Hedo Turkoglu backed out and instead agreed to a five-year, $53 million deal from the Toronto Raptors.
July 2012: The Mavericks believed they were about to close a three-year, $9 million deal to retain free-agent point guard Jason Kidd until he floored them by accepting a similar offer from the New York Knicks.