It has felt like forever since the opening of free agency at 11:01 p.m. CT on Tuesday, when Jordan promptly met with a Mavericks contingent of Dirk, Mark Cuban and Chandler Parsons for dinner in Los Angeles, followed by an extended formal pitch including others and lasting several hours the next morning.
All seemed so promising: reports surfaced that DeAndre thought the Mavericks had "set the bar high."
Still, reports consistently said that Jordan's decision was a 50/50 one. The wait became even more nerve-wracking as the Mavericks' backup plans disappeared before their eyes. In a surprise move, Tyson Chandler signed with the Suns, while players like Danny Green and Brandan Wright also found new teams. The Clippers also signed Paul Pierce, in a move that several Los Angeles media reported was specifically designed to entice Jordan to re-sign.
However, the Mavericks inking the Blazers' Wesley Matthews to a four-year deal reportedly worth about $52 million may have turned the tide. Signing Matthews was widely rumored to be an important key in convincing DeAndre to come to Big D.
Jordan is a dynamic player and one of the top centers in the league. He's 26 years old and a freak of an athlete, able to dunk almost anything in sight while leading the NBA with 15 rebounds a game last year. His free throw struggles are well-known and his tendency to get into foul trouble sometimes hurts him, but every player has flaws. No one in the league can average 15 points and 18 rebounds like Jordan did in a 15-game stretch last year in Los Angeles when Blake Griffin was out.
Like he did then, the Mavericks will expect Jordan to step into a bigger role. Being more involved in the offense doesn't mean Dallas will give him the ball in the post and expect him to score, but he'll be heavily included in the Mavericks pick-and-roll game. As soon as Jordan signs, the next key for Dallas this offseason will be bringing in a pick-and-roll guard or two. Re-signing J.J. Barea and snagging a player like Jeremy Lin would give the Mavericks the ball handlers they need to make this offense work.
Defensively, Jordan will be asked to cover for Dirk Nowitzki as much as possible. Jordan's not a game-changing defensive player, despite his highlight blocks, but he's a capable one. With just seven players under contract, a third big man is another position Dallas needs to fill and a strong defensive center like Kosta Koufas might be a better fit than the offense-first Amar'e Stoudemire which Dallas relied on last year.
The Mavs learned from their mistakes coming into free agency. For once, it wasn't just Dirk and cap space, but a young star (and apparently extremely effective recruiter) in Chandler Parsons. His recruiting alone helped shape Jordan's mind about signing in Dallas.
Everyone can exhale now. Plan A worked.