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Chaos theory: where are all the consequences of Jordan's reversal?

We keep hearing about how by changing his mind DeAndre Jordan has screwed the Mavericks. It's true the Mavs are screwed, but that's just because they didn't get Jordan, not because he changed his mind.

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The great DeAndre Jordan flip-flop is an incredible story and sparked one of the amazing single days in NBA history. But there's some revisionism going on out there that needs to be cleared up.

Yes, the Dallas Mavericks are screwed. No, the Mavericks are not screwed because DeAndre Jordan changed his mind. The Mavs are screwed because Jordan chose the Clippers, period. The timing, as it happens, is incidental. If DeAndre had never verbally committed to the Mavericks and had instead chosen the Clippers from the beginning, the Mavericks would be exactly as screwed.

I've seen a lot of "But the Mavs signed Wesley Matthews because of Jordan" or even "The Mavs could have kept Tyson Chandler." Mark Cuban made a big deal of saying that he was going to allow Matthews to back out of his deal (as if he had any power to stop him -- ooh snap) in his CyberDust comments about DJ.

And now we get this from a Chandler Parsons interview: "We had a man's word that he was going to come here. Then we signed Wes Matthews...." Now in English, the word "then" is a conjunctive adverb. It is used to join clauses together, and it implies sequence -- if action A happens before action B, you might say "A happened and then B happened."

But that is NOT what happened in this case Chans. Wesley Matthews verbally committed to the Mavs on July 2nd; DeAndre Jordan verbally committed to the Mavs on July 3rd. The Mavs had no commitment from Jordan at the time of the Matthews signing. So stop implying that they did. Was Cubes going to give Matthews the same do over had Jordan picked the Clippers in the first place?

As for Tyson Chandler, he had long since committed to the Phoenix Suns, so he was not an option. The Mavs were all in on Jordan, and the fact that he left them hanging for five days, while inappropriate and unfortunate and a lot of other unflattering things, didn't change anything.

It's fascinating actually. The crazy NBA moratorium was bound to produce a situation like this at some point, and there has been a lot of hand-wringing about the "consequences" of a major free agent breaking precedent and changing his mind. People have talked about all the things that "could" be impacted by it, but guess what? As far as I can tell, nothing was impacted. Nothing.

Obviously the Mavs lose, just as we thought the Clippers had lost when Jordan first committed to Dallas. BUT NOTHING ELSE CHANGED. Normally I'd be the first to say that there's no way to know that, since we can't tell what would have happened in the other scenario, but in this case, we kind of can.

In the wake of Jordan's short-lived agreement with the Mavs, owner Mark Cuban, who is never reticent with a reporter in the room, told us what Dallas' Plan B was had they missed out on Jordan: they were going to tank. He said that. So in the counter-factual world where Jordan tells them on July 3rd he's going with the Clippers, the Mavs don't go out and arrange a sign-and-trade with the Pacers for Roy Hibbert. Again, I can't know that for sure, but didn't Cuban more or less say that?

Between July 3 2:00 PM PT and July 8 9:01PM PT, what moves did the Mavs make? They re-signed J.J. Barea for 2y/5.6M and re-signed Charlie Villanueva for another season. That's it. By the way, if Cuban wants to hand out do-overs, those are the guys to call, since they're the ones who signed on thinking they'd be playing with Jordan. Regardless, these are not earth-shattering deals. They re-signed a couple of players who were already on their roster to low money, short term contracts. This is not exactly the butterfly effect we're talking about here.

Some day, if the moratorium remains as it is, a free agent is going to change his mind and cause some real chaos. Multiple deals and multiple teams will suffer major consequences from one player's indecisiveness. The system is set up to cause exactly that, and that's no secret.

But the ripple effect that everyone is talking about DID NOT HAPPEN THIS TIME. NO OTHER DOMINOES FELL. THE SLOPE IS NOT THAT SLIPPERY. (OK, I'm out of metaphors.) The NBA dodged a bullet for sure (whoops, I guess I was wrong). They got lucky, and by extension Jordan got lucky because even though lots of people will hate him for his behavior, they don't have much reason to. A reversal of this sort has the potential to impact a lot of things, but in fact, of the 30 NBA teams, 28 of them were completely untouched by this madness.

This was between the Clippers and the Mavericks, and as it happens, the timing of his decision changed nothing. The Mavericks are in exactly the position today that Cuban told us they'd be in had DeAndre never committed to Dallas -- they need to tank.