DeAndre Jordan spurns the Los Angeles Clippers to join the Dallas Mavericks

Ball Don't Lie
DeAndre Jordan spurns the Los Angeles Clippers to join the Dallas Mavericks
DeAndre Jordan spurns the Los Angeles Clippers to join the Dallas Mavericks

Former Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, shockingly, will leave tens of millions of dollars on the table to join the Dallas Mavericks. The athletic center will sign a four-year, $80 million deal with Mark Cuban’s team:

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The Clippers stated prior to the offseason that they would throw every bit of available money they had at Jordan, up to five years and $109 million. Rumors swirled that Jordan was both unhappy with an understandably contentious relationship with the perpetually disagreeable Chris Paul, and the idea that he was a tertiary figure on the Clippers’ totem under Paul and forward Blake Griffin.

Rumors also swirled, during this madcap first few days of NBA free agency, that the way to Jordan’s heart would be via the promise of increased visibility and more of a role on offense. How any of this will be possible in Dallas is unclear at this point.

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Jordan is from Houston, but Houston is not Dallas, and a 240 mile distance separates the two cities. The Mavericks have already lost scorer Monta Ellis to the Indiana Pacers, we have no idea how severe and potentially limiting Chandler Parsons’ knee surgery recovery will be, and franchise centerpiece Dirk Nowitzki recently turned 37 years old. Center Tyson Chandler, six years older but in several ways superior to Jordan, left to sign with the Phoenix Suns.

The Mavs recently signed Wesley Matthews, who suffered an Achilles tear in March, to a four-year deal. Three of those years will take place in his 30s, and though Matthews is one of the league’s more admirable players, even an ahead of schedule recovery from an Achilles tear doesn’t do much to bring NBA players back to an approximation of what they once were pre-tear. The team will still have a little bit of salary cap space left after pen is put to paper, which hopefully will solve the conundrum that is “Raymond Felton, starting point guard for the Dallas Mavericks.”

This signing, and to a lesser extent Chandler Parsons’ signing from last year, act as an end game for the four years’ worth of attempts to surround Nowitzki with a suitable supporting cast as he approaches retirement. The payoff, with no second round playoff appearances and even a lottery appearance in 2013, is more than a little disappointing.

This isn’t to the discredit the work of Cuban, general manager Donnie Nelson, or even Nowitzki – who took far less than market value to commit to a smaller contract last offseason in order to save money to acquire free agents. The Mavs’ braintrust made smart, calculated and forward-thinking decisions that for various reasons just didn’t end up benefitting the team. Through a string of bad luck and worse timing, the Mavericks had to fight for free agent scraps. And though they might feature perhaps the best coach in the NBA in Rick Carlisle, he’s been submarined twice by two franchise tilting talents in the mercurial Lamar Odom and Rajon Rondo.

This is just what happens, sometimes, when smart people take chances. It wasn’t hubris or poor reasoning that cemented the Mavericks within the realm of the mediocre following the team’s 2011 championship; which is ironic because each of the moves following that title were initiated because of attempts to stay out of that sort of NBA purgatory.

Jordan is not without his charms. Both technically and figuratively he is the perhaps the best finisher in the NBA, a lob machine that shot over 70 percent from the field last season. That’s not all due to the presence of Paul or the expertly-passing Blake Griffin, Jordan knows his angles and when to dash toward the front of the rim.

His defense in certain areas is suspect, he still harbors overarching bad pick and roll habits left over from Los Angeles’ Vinny Del Negro era, but defensive rebounds and blocks are still box score stats that matter. The idea that he’ll turn into a low post threat at (nearly) age 27 is a bit of a joke, and his free throw shooting (39.7) makes it so you do have to leave him off the floor at times, but Carlisle no doubt has a few tricks up his sleeve.

DeAndre Jordan is nothing to build upon in a post-Nowitzki future, even though the Mavs will have cap room (as everyone else will) next offseason and in 2017. Jordan also left a championship contender to play with this disparate group of Dallas Mavericks. This feels like a move that will disappoint two franchises at once, while costing the player $29 million.

So, why is this happening again? Chris Paul must be really, really mean.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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