Quick, You're Neil Olshey, the Lockout's Over, What Do You Do?

Okay, the stupid lockout's not over but we're all sick of it, so let's pretend. You are Neil Olshey and you're, I don't know, watching TV, probably your favorite show, "The Young and the Restless." Your cellphone rings. It's Andy Roeser and he tells you, "The lockout's over Neil, Don wants you to spend as little as possible and win and NBA championship. Make your magic, Neil!." You hang up and you try and figure out what to do first.

Of course the answer is obvious, you couldn't possible get this one wrong (and never mind that I telegraphed the answer by putting the guy's picture right at the top of the page). You, Neil, know exactly what to do... you will sign DeAndre Jordan. It's a no-brainer, right? Right? Neil?

I mean, we all saw DJ's game shoot through the roof last year.  He's magnificient, huge, athletic, young, improving, with crazy upside,right?  And, whew, you're in a great spot, Neil, because DeAndre's a restricted free agent. Even though your boss is Donald Sterling, you can't possible screw this up because no matter what anyone else offers, you have last dibs. Last dibs, Neil! Yeeahh. You have the luxury of letting DJ go out and get an offer and bring it back and you can match it or better it. Gloriosity, the Collective Bargaining Agreement is a wonderful thing.  

Well, just before the start of the lockout you did something smart, you programmed DJ's agent's phone number into your cell. But before you push send, you hesitate because you're a little worried the offer sheet DJ brings back might be large. How large? Hmm. Maybe you should review the numbers. So you pull out your laptop and you go here. Now, let's see: Deandre played 80 games last year, very nice, and he averaged 25.6 minutes, okay, up from 16 the year before. Cool. 68.6 shooting percentage too, 1.8 blocks, and all those slammers, me oh my, remember? But what's this... 7.8 points per game... but... hey, all those slammers, right? Guy's an amazing athlete. Let's see, rebounds... 7.2. okay, not bad. So, I mean let's extend his numbers out because I mean, Vinny's gonna give him a lot more minutes, right? Great. DJ's numbers over 36 minutes work out to a solid ten and ten. That's good stuff for a defensive center right? That's something to build on, dammit, but oh, what's this, yeah, free throw percentage is... .414, that can't be right, can it? Because with a number like that, the Italian Stallion won't really be able to put DJ out there in crunch time, will he? Maybe that 36 will be more like 28 or 29. Well, that's a drag, isn't it?

Okay, Neil, so, then, before you dial, maybe you should figure out what DeAndre's worth? Maybe you should have a number in mind. I mean, a lot of teams seem to like him, DeAndre's an affable guy, a guy with upside... but, you've got other issues. You've got to start thinking about extending Eric Gordon and, next year, Blake Griffin, and they're gonna be expensive, right? So, don't go too nuts here, I mean, you might also have to buy your way into that much-talked about small forward spot (Iggy, should you get your shot, is an expensive player).  But, okay, let's not panic... the "mid-level" exception will supposedly be around 5 million this year. That's not bad, DJ around the mid-level. Four years at 5M or so... that's good I think. Nice job Neil. Really. So, you push Send and the guy answers and he tells you he already has an offer for DJ, can you hang on a second? Of course you can. You start thinking... "maybe it's Houston, it's DeAndre's hometown, they've whiffed on Nene and written DeAndre an offer... and the offer is probably something like, oh no, what if it's eight million dollars!?  

What! Ho! I mean we LIKE DeAndre, he's Blake's best friend, and he's got great attitude, the fans love him, and we don't want to blow this but what if someone's really desperate for a center. Eight million, can you go there Neil?

Maybe you can. I think you can. I think you will. You can swing that. Donald likes DeAndre. But Neil, what if someone makes DJ an insane offer? Oh, I'm not talking Gilbert Arenas insane, no, more like mildly insane, like Travis Outlaw insane. What if someone offers Jordan ten or even eleven million a year. What, Neil, do you do then?

I mean, you've got Chris Kaman in a paper bag in your office, and yeah, I know you've been thinking you could trade him... but Chris is a legit center, a 18 and ten guy and hanging on to him would take the sting out of losing DeAndre, right? But what about that small forward spot? You were planning to swap Chris for that guy, right? You were waiting out Philly, right? Maybe you can bring that guy in on the cheap instead? Nevermind that you tried that last year and it was a disaster.  Really, you've got a lot to think about Neil. DeAndre, Chris, a small forward, the Minny pick. And then you've got to resign your young stars. And what about next summer? What about leaving space for that home run you've been dreaming about. What if you could bring in a Deron Williams or Chris Paul? That would be genius, Neil, you could get out from under DTS, you could write your own ticket anywhere if you could pull that off. But focus, Neil! First, you've got to do something about DJ! How high will you go Neil? How much are you willing to pay DeAndre Jordan?

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