We’ve reached the point in the season where teams have played enough games to get a pretty good idea of where they’re heading. The Dallas Mavericks, sitting at 4-15 after 19 games, seem destined for a top-five draft pick next summer, unless they can manage to pull off more miracles like what we saw from Harrison Barnes in Memphis last night.
The bank is open!— NBA (@NBA) November 23, 2017
Harrison Barnes banks in the @TISSOT buzzer beater for the @dallasmavs! #ThisIsYourTime pic.twitter.com/10e3g0KSVF
That’s ok, because
a) this upcoming draft has some franchise-changing talent in the top-five, and
b) the Mavs, despite currently having the worst record in the West, continue to fight hard every night, which can help build good habits for when the team is actually ready to win again.
The Mavs may not be as bad as their record indicates, but if they continue to lose despite trying hard (organically tanking, so to speak) and are also able to draft a guy like DeAndre Ayton or Marvin Bagley III next summer? That helps accelerate the rebuilding process.
The Los Angeles Clippers, on the other hand, had much higher hopes for this season, even after trading away Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets. They started out the season 5-2, but have since dropped nine straight contests (their last win was against — you guessed it — the Mavs). That, along with Patrick Beverley being out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, has thrust DeAndre Jordan’s name into trade rumors. According to The Washington Post, “multiple teams” are interested in trading for the all-star big man.
Now, in the middle of a rebuilding season, the Mavs probably shouldn’t be looking to make any big, splashy moves, unless it’s one that lands them a young wing player or an extra first round draft pick.
But, there may be another way the Mavs can make a big splash and still tank.
The Mavs should try to trade for DeAndre Jordan, and here’s why
The Mavs have a tricky situation on their hands right now with Nerlens Noel. He’s set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, so he can go wherever he wants with the Mavs getting nothing in return (unless the team signing Noel needs to dump some contracts in a sign-and-trade). Noel being unrestricted makes it hard to trade him as well, unless he commits to re-sign with the team he’s traded to.
All this being said, the Mavs have an opportunity to pull off one of the pettiest moves in NBA history: Dallas should ship Nerlens Noel (and maybe Dwight Powell) to the Clippers for DeAndre Jordan.
Then (plot twist!), Rick Carlisle should leave him on the the bench every game, only bringing him in with a couple minutes left in regulation of a blowout loss. This way, Carlisle could let his talented center go to waste, while still tanking, and MFFL wouldn’t even care like they do with Noel, because you know what they say about karma.
In all seriousness though...
DeAndre Jordan would help this Mavs team so much. Dirk Nowitzki would no longer have to start at center. You’d have a guy who can get 15-20 rebounds on any given night, and he would instantly rival Wesley Matthews as the best defender on the team. Yes, Jordan is already 29 years old, but he’s still got a lot left in the tank.
So far this season, Jordan is averaging 10.1 points and 13.7 rebounds in 32 minutes per game for the Clippers. He’s still one of the most physically dominant centers in the NBA, and it wouldn’t be too late for him to do some of the things we dreamed about him doing for the Mavs when he verbally committed to sign with Dallas in the summer of 2015.
All that being said, my guess is that it’s very unlikely this scenario becomes a reality. If you consider Dennis Smith Jr., Harrison Barnes and Dallas’ 2018 first round draft pick untouchable, then the Mavs simply don’t have enough pieces on their roster to put together an enticing trade package for the Clippers to consider.
But despite all the harsh feelings that Jordan’s actions caused two and a half years ago, admit it: it’d be fun if the two sides came together and made things right, even if just for a season or two.