I do not pretend to know what DeAndre Jordan will do. I know what he should do, for lots of reasons which I will outline shortly. But I've seen players do the opposite of what they should do, perhaps most famously one Elton Brand, who completely shocked me when he defied all logic and broke his own promise and left for Philadelphia in 2008. (I do take a little comfort in the fact that it turned out to be the death knell of his career, but very little, as it was really injuries that were his demise.)
Until very recently I viewed all of the Dallas talk as so much hype from agents and writers who have a vested interest in creating the illusion of doubt where none exists. Clearly it's more than that. The Mavericks have a real shot, though I'm not sure why that would be. Let's look at the perceived factors in DJ's decision making:
Friction with Chris Paul:
Is Chris Paul a demanding teammate? Sure. But the idea that there's so much friction there that DeAndre would be driven out of Los Angeles is more than a bit of a stretch. I've played a lot of basketball. You know the guys I don't like to play with? The ones that don't throw me the ball. Chris Paul has been a GREAT teammate to Jordan for four seasons, contributing greatly to his league best shooting percentage by getting him great shots. Paul is so good and so unselfish as a player that he'd have to be a complete sociopath to override that, at least for me. And no, he does not appear to be a sociopath (NBA fans in LA know what that looks like).
If DeAndre is still considering this move in part to get away from CP3, I'd remind him that the point guard in Dallas as of this moment is Raymond Felton. Which one would be better for Jordan's career trajectory, do you suppose? Which one will make him a better player? Right.
Third fiddle to Paul and Blake Griffin:
If DeAndre is tired of being the third person in the Clippers' Big Three, he just needs to realize one thing: if he's the number two option on a team, that team is not winning a playoff series. Ever. That's just the reality. Jordan needs to know where he fits in the NBA-verse, and he's not ever going to be a second option. Heck, if you want to make the case that he's already more important in LA than Blake Griffin, feel free. Several stats suggest that he is. But he will never be as celebrated as the others (though he was third team All-NBA, just like Griffin, this season) and that's just the reality.
A bigger part of the offense:
This relates to the third fiddle thing. Jordan's star began to rise when he focused on defense and rebounding, and he needs to continue to realize that those are the things that make him special. The Clippers had the highest rated offense in the NBA last season, in a new golden age of offensive basketball. He does NOT get a lot of touches on this team and he should not. This offense is too good in other ways. Now, if he wants to go to a terrible team where he'd be a decent option on offense, that's up to him. He wouldn't have to go far, just across the hall.
Having said that, I think there's room in Doc Rivers' pitch to offer Jordan a slightly bigger role, especially in certain situations. Let's think this through. We just watched the Warriors, a team in the Clippers Division, win a title without a traditional center. The Clippers' have a massive advantage in a small ball world, in that their bigs (Griffin and Jordan) are athletic enough to stay on the floor against small ball lineups. In that world, the Clippers absolutely need for Jordan to have one or two moves that are reliable enough that they can punish the Draymond Green's of the world -- over whom, let's face, Jordan has a massive physical edge. My pitch to Jordan regarding offense is this: work your ass off on post moves this off-season; against traditional lineups, we'll run our stuff, and you'll get what you always got, lobs and putbacks. If a team goes small against us, you get a steady diet of post ups, provided it is working.
He's from Texas:
Yes. Yes he is. And he's lived in Los Angeles for the last six years. I've lived in Dallas and I've lived in L.A. Next.
Those are the only things I can think of that might be arguments for leaving the Clippers, and none of them seem very compelling to me. And that ignores all of the incredible reasons for staying.
The Clippers are the better team and should be for years:
The Mavericks were seventh in the Western Conference last season and lost in the first round of the playoffs. Frankly, with a healthy OKC and an improved New Orleans, I don't see them in the post-season at all going forward, with or without Jordan who is not a significant upgrade over the departed Tyson Chandler (that's not an insult -- Chandler was still great last season and two years ago we were hoping against all evidence and logic that Jordan might some day be Chandler.) Last season's leading scorer just signed with Indiana. The best player in franchise history is 37 and potentially entering the final year of his contract (he has a player option for a season after that). Any reasonable reading of the situation concludes that the Clippers will battle for a title with Jordan, while the Mavs would battle for the post-season (at best) with Jordan.
Doc Rivers made Jordan what he is:
To me, this is the only reason that matters, and ultimately it's the reason that I've never really believed that Jordan would leave. People forget. People forget how ludicrous Doc sounded when he talked about Jordan two years ago. I was there -- I was in the room. When Rivers spoke of Jordan being part of a big three, when he spoke of Jordan having All Star and Defensive Player of the Year potential, there were literal eye rolls around the room. It was completely absurd. And then it happened, in no small part because Doc Rivers convinced Jordan (and everyone else) that it could. Does DeAndre Jordan finish third in DPOY voting, does he make third team All-NBA, or first team All-Defense, without Doc Rivers, both to coach him and to advocate for him? No way.
Maybe Rick Carlisle would be just as good, maybe he'd do as much. But Doc's already done it.
I don't begrudge Jordan going through this process. It's great to be wanted. And it makes it more exciting for lots of people if there seems to be a serious doubt. But he also took meetings with the Knicks and the Lakers -- and he was never going to either of those teams. And I don't think he's going to the Mavericks either.
Mark Cuban is a billionaire, so the Mavs
have that advantage (never mind). Chandler Parson is a chill dude. And that's it; I'm out of reasons to go to Dallas.
There's only one reasonable conclusion: DeAndre Jordan should (and I firmly believe will) announce this afternoon that he will remain a Clipper.