The big Clippers news from last night’s NBA rumors was a report that the team had gained significant ground on an extension with Lou Williams. While this doesn’t mean that an extension is definitely happening, an impending agreement likely raises the asking price for Williams on the trade market, giving the Clippers leverage that they didn’t have based on Williams’ expiring contract.
Hidden in that ESPN report by Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst, though, was this nugget:
The Clippers have discussed trade scenarios for center DeAndre Jordan, but league sources said that, so far, no traction exists on a deal, and there’s a real possibility that Jordan will finish the season with the Clippers. Jordan can opt out of his contract this summer and become an unrestricted free agent.
I’ve written thousands of words in the last few days about possible destinations for DJ as we approach the deadline: first, a massive column detailing possible deals with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Portland Trail Blazers, and then, yesterdays column about the Wizards’ interest in Jordan and potential packages there.
The one theme, though, is that it’s hard to find a workable deal, and there isn’t really a deal out there that will both blow the Clippers away and be reasonable from the other team’s perspective. Most realistic offers involve tough compromises and an underwhelming return, but they have to be weighed against the risk of losing Jordan for nothing in the off-season. Some of the deals that have come up, though, are frankly worse than potentially losing Jordan.
A reported Cavaliers offer of Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, and Cleveland’s 2018 1st for Jordan is laughable—Thompson and Smith possess two of the worst contracts in the league, each running for two seasons after this year, and despite the Cavaliers’ embarrassing horribleness, that pick will still be in the 20’s. It’s nowhere near worth taking on those contracts to get that pick—and that’s before you take into account that an All-NBA center is going the other way in the deal. Similarly, deals involving Ian Mahinmi, Evan Turner, or Matthew Dellavadova just don’t make sense for the Clippers. Adding a late first-round pick isn’t worth adding an eight-figure contract to their relatively clear books going forward.
So, this nugget regarding the Clippers’ willingness to hang on to DJ is a good sign. If they honestly are not going to budge on extension talks, and a path forward between the team and Jordan isn’t tenable, then trading him is obviously preferable to letting him walk for nothing. But they shouldn’t feel desperate to trade him if it means accepting a deal that is quite literally worse than losing him for nothing, especially one that includes contracts that could hinder future moves for years to come.