Honestly, DeAndre Jordan isn't always so fun. Even when he's flying for poster dunks and hurling basketballs several rows into the stands, there's always the inescapable fear that he'll be sent to the free throw line or commit a dumb foul that handcuffs his coach in a crucial game.
But he's also very, very good. At 6'11 and 265 pounds, he's perhaps the best athlete in all of the NBA. He's a monstrous rebounding and good-enough defender to make any team happen. Given those two offsetting notions, and given Dallas' adoration of Tyson Chandler, it's easy to understand why the Mavericks' offseason pursuit of the 2015 free agent has become so polarizing for the fanbase.
Jordan probably wouldn't be in this situation if the Clippers hadn't let Houston score 40 points in a fourth quarter where Los Angeles led by 19. It's a Game 6 that would have sent the Rockets home for the summer and set up the anticipated Warriors-Clippers showdown that we all thought we deserved, but no, they had to go ahead and blow it.
Chris Paul and Jordan's relationship is reportedly sinking quickly and Los Angeles has a tricky decision to make this summer. If Jordan does want nothing to do with them (which by no means has been reported in any format beyond rumors), then they're cooked and he'll just sign elsewhere without anything they can do about it. But since there's no room in their cap to make another significant free agency splash (besides the inevitable Paul Pierce signing), they almost have to have the Texas A&M product back in Los Angeles if he's willing at whatever price he names. (And given the situation, Jordan will demand the max, of course.)
The math works on a Tyson Chandler for DeAndre Jordan sign-and-trade swap, something ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon brought up. It could do both parties "right" in a sense, giving each their desired man. If Los Angeles can't procure a center from somewhere, though, you'll be sure that they won't let Jordan walk without a fight.
How he fits in Dallas
Above everything else, the Mavericks need young players with talent, players to build around for the future. They said this in 2008 and 2010 and 2013, yes, but words don't predicate actions and team building is so incredibly difficult. Signing Chandler Parsons last summer was a step in the right direction, but he needs help and Jordan can provide just that.
While Dirk's window is nearly shut, he's still a major element the team must build around in the following two seasons. Fortunately, Jordan would be excellent next to him, diving down the lane for dunks and blocking shots indiscriminately on the other end.
It's true that Jordan's defense probably falls short of Tyson Chandler's this season, which, in turn, fell short of the Chandler of 2011. But Jordan is a good start and he'll excel with the right players around him. A players' skillset doesn't radically shift after his first few years in the NBA, but in a different system and another coach, it's possible Jordan can learn to stay (more) earthbound on pump fakes and corral perimeter players when forced to switch a little better than before.
Can he improve his free throw shooting? That I don't know. In the similar vein, a radical departure from his sub-50 percentages is unlikely, but raising to the point where it was at least a coin flip would be a huge step for his game. And while he'll still be sent to the line anytime someone can grab him rolling down the lane with the ball, it does seem like hack-a-DAJ may soon be a banned strategy.
But as mentioned above, it's best not to dwell on a single weakness, even if it's as eye-catching as a war party from Mad Max coasting through a desert. Jordan is a rebounder like the Mavericks organization has never seen and more than adequate in all the other areas that you'd be happy to have him.
It's true that he's not always fun, but a slow descent into mediocrity because the Mavericks don't have a replacement core when Dirk retires is even less enjoyable. Unless Ponce de Leon's quest is suddenly fulfilled, Jordan is a player the Mavericks would love to have -- and you should feel the same, too.