Thirteen days after one of the more public, dramatic, messy and absurd reversals of course in the history of NBA free agency, DeAndre Jordan has opened up on his decision to renege on his agreement to join the Dallas Mavericks in favor of returning to the Los Angeles Clippers.
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The All-NBA Third Team and All-Defensive First Team center will officially be reintroduced as a member of the Clippers in a press conference on Tuesday, his 27th birthday. But before he meets the press — and, you'd suspect, fields an awful lot of questions about what transpired between July 3, when he reached a deal with Mark Cuban, and July 8, when the "second thoughts" reports began flying, as well as how he conducted himself thereafter — Jordan attempted to amplify his previous apology to the Mavericks by explaining his decision to stay in L.A. in a straight-to-camera video for The Players' Tribune:
"I feel like we've all made decisions in our lives where we've had second thoughts about things, and have gone back and had to revisit a situation, and I definitely feel like this was one of those times for me," Jordan said.
(Well, yeah. Clearly.)
Jordan's comments mostly confirm the exhaustive reporting on this midsummer saga. He started to have second thoughts, to feel like "something was missing," on Monday, July 6, three days after agreeing in principle with the Mavs. (Blake Griffin also confirmed this in his own Tuesday Players' Tribune piece, in which he claims all the emojis and chair barricades and everything were pretty much "just a big joke to pass the time.") He decided to go to Dallas because he felt like he needed and wanted a change after spending the last seven years with the Clippers. He decided to stay in Los Angeles because he later realized he preferred the status quo of the organization for which he'd played his entire career, and that he wanted to win a championship "with these guys."
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Jordan praised Cuban and the Mavericks organization for the free-agent presentation that lured him, but says, "at the same time, I felt like I didn't give it all my thought." He says realizing that he'd have to upset Dallas fans by turning his back on them "really got to" him. He says that talking to members of the Mavericks — headlined, presumably, by forward Chandler Parsons, Dallas' chief recruiter throughout L'affaire DeAndre — about how he wanted to play with them before realizing that he didn't want to play with them "is definitely a tough situation it puts you in, because you want to make the right decision, but you also don't want to step on toes" ... the latter part of which is probably the clearest read of why DeAndre did what he did throughout this entire situation.
As he writes in a brief prefatory note, Jordan thought free agency was going to be fun, but instead learned it was "mostly a headache." He is not the first high-priced player to learn this. His learning experience greatly benefited the Clippers, who pivoted from presumed decline to resumed contention with Jordan's change of heart. It fundamentally shook the Mavericks, who were forced to scramble with a series of moves — giving Wesley Matthews and J.J. Barea seemingly outsized loyalty-based contracts, trading for Zaza Pachulia, taking a buy-low flier on Deron Williams — that have them treading water rather than making a push for the top of the conference.
Offering this explanation doesn't change any of that and, cleared air or not, it sure doesn't seem likely to change the way anyone feels about any of it. It also doesn't seem likely to get Jordan free of the questions he's faced about his handling of the situation, or to meaningfully rehabilitate his image with those fans and observers who felt like he didn't conduct himself professionally in making a well-within-his-rights decision about where he'd like to work. It all kind of leaves you wondering why it exists and what purpose it's intended to serve, beyond maybe making DeAndre himself feel a bit better ... which, I suppose, is something.
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