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The DeAndre Jordan Contingency Article You Don't Want to Read

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Look, none of us want to be here, but it has to be done.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

If the Clippers lose DeAndre Jordan in free agency, it will feel like the world has fallen apart.

It will feel like the season is lost already.

It will feel like a waste of the Doc Rivers-Chris Paul-Blake Griffin window, as the Clippers work with no cap space to fill out a team that has never made it out of the second round of the playoffs, and then lost an All-NBA 3rd team and All-Defense 1st team player.

Those feeling are natural.  But for Doc Rivers, General Manager Dave Wohl, and front office staff Kevin Eastman and Gary Sacks, the off-season charges on, even as the world falls down around their ears.  If the Clippers lose DeAndre Jordan in free agency, they must work, and work quickly, to find a replacement and continue to build the team.  This will be done either through working a sign-and-trade deal which returns the incumbent center on the team that Jordan chooses, or by utilizing the full mid-level exception, as losing Jordan would drop the Clippers below the tax.

The Dallas Mavericks are the most serious contender to steal Jordan's services away from Los Angeles, and if they do, the most obvious sign-and-trade target is Tyson Chandler.  Chandler is a free agent who wouldn't be re-signed should Jordan be lured.  While the Mavericks have the cap to sign a max free agent, and don't have any incentive to help the Clippers, they have potential to add two major free agents.  If the Mavericks renounce Rajon Rondo and Monta Ellis, they could have space to sign a free agent with an eight-figure starting salary while retaining Chandler's bird rights, and then go over the cap to sign Chandler and trade him to the Clippers for Jordan.  This deal is unlikely due to the cooperation needed from 5 parties: the Clippers, the Mavericks, Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan, and Dallas' other free agent acquisition.  If it worked out though, it's likely the best-case scenario for the Clippers in a post-Jordan world.

If the Lakers or Knicks nab Jordan, as they have a small but outside chance to do, there are potential sign-and-trade options there as well.  The Clippers could receive Jordan Hill's one-year, $9,000,000 contract (and his bird rights) if the Lakers pick up his team option, or acquire Jason Smith back in a sign-and-trade deal of his own.

Should a sign-and-trade deal not work out, the Clippers will have only their MLE to work with, and find themselves in need of a starting C and SF, along with a weak bench that needs to be shored up.  Centers that could be targeted with that type of money include: Robin Lopez, Omer Asik, Brandan Wright, and Kosta Koufos.  It's not an overly inspiring list, but if these players take slight pay cuts from what they're looking for to start on a contender, they are all solid despite not living up to the All-NBA standard that Clippers fans have become accustomed to from DeAndre Jordan.

There's also the possibility of the Clippers going small without Jordan.  They'd still need an anchor of some kind, but they could choose to invest their mid-level exception in a tall, athletic forward like Al-Farouq Aminu, but that plan would likely leave the team without enough size to compete.

The big picture doesn't look good if Jordan leaves, but this is where the road takes a Clipper team without flexibility should a star desert them.  Outside of anything brought back in a potential sign-and-trade, Doc Rivers would be left with just the MLE and minimum deals to fill two starting spots and bolster his bench, leaving him in need of rare quality signings at the league minimum: veterans extending their careers in smaller roles, and reclamation projects with high upside.