DeAndre Jordan says he didn’t stress Thursday’s trade deadline, which passed with him – despite frequent rumors and maybe a close call with the Cavaliers – remaining on the Clippers. “They were talking about trading me for three years, so I don’t really care about it anymore,” Jordan said. “If it happens, it happens. “I just want to be somewhere I’m wanted. If it’s here, it’s here. If it’s not, then, hey, it’s a business.” Do you feel wanted by the Clippers? Jordan looked around for nine seconds before answering. “What do you think?” he said. I contemplated for a moment then answered honestly: “I don’t know.” “Me neither,” Jordan replied immediately. Jordan is caught in a series of clashes, the results of which will determine how he spends the rest of his prime. One is a genuine mystery. In a couple others, he’s fighting an uphill battle. The combination creates for immense uncertainty. Clippers winning now vs. Clippers rebuilding When the Clippers traded Blake Griffin, they said they wanted to keep winning, add young talent and increase flexibility. Cool. So does every team. More often, teams face forks in the road where they must decide to prioritize one goal over another. That’ll almost certainly be the case with Jordan this offseason. He holds a $24,119,025 player option. If he exercise it, all the trade considerations reemerge. If he declines it, the Clippers must determine how much to invest in someone who turns 30 this summer. The Clippers just extended the contract of Lou Williams, who’s a couple years older than Jordan. That could indicate their thinking with Jordan. Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic, who’ve started every game they’ve played for the Clippers, are also older than Jordan. Another starter, Danilo Gallinari, is just a couple weeks younger. It wouldn’t be simple to pivot into a new direction without Jordan. That’s even more true after signing Williams. Even if the Clippers let Jordan walk in free agency, they’d project to have about the mid-level exception to sign a replacement. With a re-signed Jordan, they’d have… the mid-level exception to spend on free agents. They have so much money committed to next season already, losing Jordan wouldn’t make much difference without other moves. But commit to Jordan long-term, and his salary would be an impediment in 2019, when Tobias Harris‘, Austin Rivers‘, Boban Marjanovic‘s, Teodosic’s, Wesley Johnson‘s and Beverley’s contracts expire. (Rivers, Teodosic and Johnson have player options for next season that only complicate planning, but the bet here is all three opt in.) This team probably tops out as a low playoff seed with Jordan. Without him, the lottery looks more probable – not an ideal outcome for a team already locked into so many veterans. That’s why Williams’ extension appears telling. That seems to be the Clippers accepting a short-term plan, prioritizing a window that matches Jordan’s. Then again, Williams extension could just be a value play. He’ll earn $8 million each of the next two years and has just $1.5 million of $8 million guaranteed the third year. Clippers executive Jerry West predicted Williams would have earned $11 million on the open market. “Yeah, it’s the truth,” Williams said. Williams said he signed for the security and comfort with his teammates. But this is the same franchise that just fawned over Griffin then traded him. The Clippers could eventually deal Williams – or significantly change the roster he wanted to stay with. Williams said he didn’t think about the possibility of getting Griffinned, nor did he get any assurances of the team keeping Jordan. West said the Clippers also offered Jordan a contract extension, but the center denied that.
DeAndre Jordan at center of multiple battles
Pro Basketball Talk | Feb 12