In just over 24 hours the chaos of NBA free agency will begin and teams will be clamoring to meet with the Clippers's star free agent DeAndre Jordan. DJ is expected to get a max contract offer from some team this summer, having finished with max credentials as the 3rd place Defensive Player of the Year for the second time and 3rd Team All-NBA. Despite the name, not all max contracts are made the same, and DJ will be facing a couple different contract options from different teams.
The Clippers hold Jordan's Bird Rights, which means that they have privilege of offering him the largest contract available, a 5-year max with 7.5% raises each year. Based on the projected salary cap for next season, Jordan's contract would start at about $19 million in the first year and total about $109 million over its length. This is the most guaranteed money Jordan is able to receive this offseason, and it can only happen with the Clippers.
If DeAndre were to leave and go to another team to sign a max contract through free agency, he would only be able to receive a smaller max contract of 4 years with 4.5% annual raises. If the Mavs were able to lure Jordan away, it would be for a max contract starting at the same salary, but totaling about $81 million over 4 years. Even if the Mavs were able to acquire Jordan through a sign and trade deal, they would still only be able to offer him the 4-year $81 million max. In the previous CBA teams used to be able to sign and trade players with the 5 year super max, but the most recent CBA eliminated this and made contracts the same for a team signing a free agent or receiving him in a sign and trade, largely deincentizing sign and trade deals.
If Jordan leaves for any other team than the Clippers, he is passing up on about 30 million dollars in a fifth year. The Texan argument for Jordan to come to the Mavericks banks on DJ not actually losing out on any money in the first 4 years of his contract because of the lack of state taxes, and they would love to resign him once his contract is up to a new max at a higher cap, meaning that fifth year loss is covered. However, the conservative Clipper argument is that while DJ may be the closest thing to an ironman in the NBA, passing up on 30 million dollars is always a risk, especially in a league which has a long history of injuries to 7-footers over the age of 30. Besides just injury, at 31 DJ may have lost a step defensively or declined in athleticism, which could hamper his chances of receiving another max deal.
There is a possible third option for Jordan if he wants to capitalize on the jump in salary cap and max contracts next offseason, signing a two year deal with a player option for the second. While Jordan may have alluded preferring long-term security earlier in the year, he could look to LeBron's example and change his mind. If Jordan does want to pursue this type of essentially one year deal on an effort to get the most money possible, it still makes the most sense to remain with the Clippers. With the Clippers his Bird rights remain intact and he could sign a five year super max. If he left for Dallas in a one year and opt out deal, they wouldn't have his Bird rights and could only give him a regular 4 year max.
With the different options about to be presented to DJ through elaborate PowerPoint presentations and purple and gold billboards saying
STAY COME, the simple fact remains the Clippers can offer the most money and the best chance to win.