Well, that was a rather wild ride on the way to re-signing DeAndre Jordan, huh? I honestly cannot recall a wilder day in the NBA when it came to free agency; and that includes “The Decision” and a bunch of free agents flipping teams on the same day. Wednesday night had everything. We had a sad player who called his best friend to express his regrets, we had a team fly out to – what seemed like at the time – hold said sad player hostage in his own house, and then the sad player completely flipped on his non-binding verbal agreement with the new team to sign with his old team. It was just another day in the Wild Wild West.
First things first here, the Dallas Mavericks got done sort of dirty in this entire ordeal. There was nothing ethically or morally wrong done by the Los Angeles Clippers or DeAndre Jordan but the Mavericks still got the extremely short end of the stick in a situation that they thought was done and over with a few days ago. As stated in the paragraph above, it was a non-binding verbal agreement. During the NBA moratorium, players and teams can negotiate terms of a possible deal but that deal is, in fact, non-binding in nature. Team officials cannot openly discuss the deals that they have verbally agreed to players with, which Mark Cuban violated and ended up getting fined for. Any agreement made during the moratorium, as mentioned, is non-binding. There’s no pen to paper and the league explicitly states the non-binding nature.
The only thing any of the three parties involved – Clippers, Mavericks, and Jordan – did wrong was change their mind. And that was Jordan’s doing. According to league sources, Jordan called up his best friend, Blake Griffin, and expressed regret over possibly making the wrong career decision. According to the story, Griffin told Jordan to call head coach Doc Rivers and tell Doc what Jordan told Griffin. As it goes, apparently this happened and within a few hours most of the Clippers contingent was in Jordan’s house having a grand old time while the Mavericks mogul desperately pleaded with Jordan to answer the phone. It never happened. At midnight plus one minute Eastern time, Jordan signed a new contract with the Clippers and the Mavericks were frozen out of the equation.
In this entire debacle, and it was a debacle from beginning to end, the main thing done wrong was that DeAndre Jordan didn’t inform the Dallas Mavericks of his decision. The other thing he did wrong, I guess, was that he changed his mind. A lot of people are blasting his manhood for going back on his word and playing the “a man is only as good as his word” card but these are multimillion dollar athletes and not regular people living everyday lives. In fact, Jordan isn’t even the first player to do anything like this. His situation was just publicized more because of Twitter and social media. Hedo Turkoglu, Carlos Boozer, and, as Clipper fans know all too well, Elton Brand did the same thing. They gave a verbal agreement during the moratorium only to renege on the deal and head elsewhere. It sucks. But it does happen.
With all of that said, you still have to feel that Dallas got left holding the bag while the getaway car drove away. The Mavericks had built an entire potential future around this possible signing of DeAndre Jordan. Now, that future is gone. They’re left with a giant abyss of unknowns and nothing to guide them into it. From one fanbase to another, we only wish it could have gone down over much more pleasant terms but what happened, happened; and there’s no way to reverse time to prevent it from happening. You have to feel a little bit for Dirk Nowitzki who is left there with nothing at the tail end of his career as the team scrambles to find pieces to help them contend in his twilight years. You can feel for Chandler Parsons a little bit, I guess, since he seems betrayed in this entire mess but recruiters sometimes get frozen out at the last minute. It happens all the time in college football. You can wine and dine someone all you want, it doesn’t mean their heart is with you, though. In the end, that’s what happened. Jordan’s heart just wasn’t in Dallas. It was a little further west.
It’s possible that DeAndre Jordan’s heart was still in Los Angeles because, after he took a step back and gathered himself during the negotiations, he realized that Dallas was feeding him the ultimate fairy tale. Mark Cuban proclaimed that Jordan was a 20-20 player and openly lied about the statistics that Jordan put up when Blake Griffin was sidelined for a stretch this past season. At one point, Cuban even said Jordan would be "Shaq-like." Perhaps Jordan eventually saw through the charade and that’s what prompted his call to Griffin. It was a “what have I done?” situation possibly. There was a Deadspin article from yesterday that perhaps, just perhaps, Mark Cuban has no one to blame but himself. Maybe Cuban’s hubris did him, and his team, in during this process. Then again, maybe not. Maybe a 26-year old man changed his mind and didn’t have the heart to let another person and/or organization down in a short period of time and couldn’t bring himself to telling them face-to-face. It’s not right but it’s legal.
Back in June, almost a month to the day infact, the DeAndre Jordan Exit Interview was published here and stated that you should “bet heavily against” him leaving. In the end, that was correct. The path getting to that correctness was full of sharp turns, steep hills, and unforeseen bumps. One thing is for certain, though: DeAndre Jordan is a Los Angeles Clipper again. There’s no telling what Jordan is capable of going into his true prime years or even what the team is capable of. It’s a giant unknown. All that’s known today is that the team is in far better shape than they were 24 to 48 hours ago. Their chances for a title have gone back up, their chances of making a deep playoff run has gone way up, and the chances of them being an exciting team once again has skyrocketed. I think it’s safe to say that this kind of excitement and drama wouldn’t have happened if a certain slumlord was still in control. Instead, an eccentric billionaire that rivals Scrooge McDuck is in charge and his little nephews are having a ball.
In Italian, “Bentornato” means “welcome back.” You’re essentially greeting a person whose return is welcomed. It’s beyond safe to say that DeAndre Jordan’s return is indeed welcomed. The sun shines a little brighter today than it did yesterday. The rays smash against your face in a way that hasn’t happened in quite some time. A road is ahead of the team; a road that could be treacherous or wondrous. It will be traveled. Together. As a team. The destination is unknown but their fun-loving jokester is back to lighten the mood just a little more. It’s going to be a fun ride thanks to his return. Bentornato, DeAndre Jordan.