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NBA Free Agency 2018: DeAndre Jordan is an option for the Mavericks, but not a good one

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He checks many boxes for Dallas, but not enough to get over his decision in 2015 to leave everyone hanging

Los Angeles Clippers v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

On July 3rd, 2015 DeAndre Jordan agreed to a four-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks. Because the NBA had silly rules regarding when the contracts could actually be signed, a saga ensued over the next several days that resulted in Jordan re-signing with the Clippers.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. In fact, July 8th, 2015 is burned into my mind forever. I worked from home that day and refreshed Twitter over and over and didn’t move from where I sat for nearly 11 hours. Jordan’s decision essentially ruined the Mavericks in their last gasp for relevancy in Dirk’s twilight years. While Dallas made the playoffs as an 8 seed in 2016, with no actual youth to build around, the franchise has slowly fallen into irrelevancy.

But it’s been three years. If Jordan opts out of his final year with the Los Angeles Clippers, would he make any sense with the Dallas Mavericks?

The Basics

Jordan is a 10-year veteran, spending his entire career with the Los Angeles Clipper franchise. The soon-to-be 30 year old center had a pretty good year last year if you’re just examining basic stats. He’s a workhorse in terms of games played and minutes, in the sense that he plays a ton (over 30 minutes a game) and rarely misses time with injuries; in fact he’s only missed 11 total games since the lockout season. Last season Jordan averaged 12 points a game while grabbing 15 rebounds. His blocks per game fell under 1 for the first time since his sophomore NBA year.

He was one of the few stabilizing forces on a Clippers team devastated first by injuries, then remixed by the mid-season Blake Griffin trade. He also has a player option with the Clippers which he can opt in to, and if that happens this whole discussion is moot.

Strengths

The appealing parts of DeAndre Jordan still apply in 2018 as they did in 2015. He’s a massive, rim-running center who can rebound the heck out of the ball and should be around for most of the season, barring any unforeseen injuries.

And, at 30, he’s probably no longer under the delusions of his mid-20’s where both he and the Mavericks dreamed of an enhanced offensive role for Jordan. He is who he is now and knowing that sort of limitation is a strength in a unique way for a rebuilding team.

Weaknesses

By now, Jordan may be inching towards a decline and with most uber-athletic bigs, when the fall comes, it happens in a hurry. There are already some slightly hidden signs. For example, his block percentage in 2017-18 was the lowest of his career at 2.4 percent. It’s also not a great look that the Clippers’ defensive rating was better with him on the bench. There’s the ever present issue of his free throw shooting percentage as well. Last year he posted a career high 58 percent from the charity stripe while also taking his lowest per game average since 2012-13.

Then there’s his age. While it’s a positive that he understands his place in the league, he doesn’t fit the timetable of a team that’s rebuilding.

Fit with the Mavericks

A tall, strong center capable of defending the paint, rebounding the ball, and rim-running? That sounds like something the Mavericks would be interested in. Dallas has been unable to keep any player who can do all three of these things. Though Jordan has similar pick-and-roll numbers to Dwight Powell, Powell was actually more efficient than Jordan in 2018 in this area.

And while it works on paper, in practice it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Jordan doesn’t work with the current Mavericks timeline of a rebuild and kicks the can down the road another year or three.

Then there’s the elephant in the room with what happened in 2015. The Mavericks maybe should forgive him for walking back his verbal agreement, but then again maybe they shouldn’t. That move ended an era already on the brink. Some wounds don’t heal. So while everyone might be able to talk themselves into this pairing, perhaps the logic will never be able to overcome the emotions from the past.

DeAndre Jordan might fit, but he will very likely never be a Dallas Maverick.