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NBA Free Agency 2018: Mavericks gearing up for a run at DeAndre Jordan

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Just hours before his deadline, DeAndre Jordan ultimately decided to opt out of the final year in his contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, making him an unrestricted free agent at 12 am ET on July 1, as first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

That decision, which would have given him $24.1 million next season, had been looming large for some time for Jordan. It became clear that he wanted out of a situation in Los Angeles that turned sour over the last season-plus that saw the departure of the entire Clippers’ core. The 6’11 dunking-blocking center, who turns 30 next month after 10 seasons in LA, ultimately decided to control his fate and enter free agency.

Rumors of trades and transactions between Los Angeles and the Dallas Mavericks started picking up steam over the last week — just after the Mavericks traded up to take Luka Doncic in the draft, fully buying in to being relevant next season. In many regards, center is the one massive hole they need to fill in the starting lineup, and it appears they’ve set their sights on Jordan.

But wait. Sound familiar? blahblahblah July 2015 yaddayaddayadda. Betrayal. Intrigue.

Yes, just three summers ago the Mavericks fell victim to one of the craziest free agency fiascoes when DeAndre Jordan verbally agreed to a contract, then backed out of said contract and hid away from sight with his Clippers teammates, and scorned the Mavericks.

One could argue that had he not, the Mavericks wouldn’t have Dennis Smith Jr. or Luka Doncic. But that’s for another day.

This time around it would appear the Mavericks are more in the driver’s seat, and DeAndre Jordan shares a mutual feeling to be in Dallas. Though trade talks ultimately fell through — according to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Mavs ultimately did not want to give up draft compensation in a deal — Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban have carved out enough cap space to match what Jordan gave up today. As shared by Stein:

Though they can’t meet with Jordan and his agent until Sunday, the Dallas Mavericks will spend the next 36 hours talking numbers. After declining the team option on the final season of Dirk Nowitzki’s contract, and maybe a few more gymnastic moves, the Mavs could have close to $30 million in cap space. BUT, they should also be able to control the market.

So what do you do to not bid against yourself?

If they really want DeAndre Jordan, and don’t want to risk losing him to a higher bidder, then expect them to get close to matching the $24 million he was set to make this season. For Jordan, maybe years on the deal is more important than sticking to that number. Those will be the important conversations happening on Sunday. The Mavericks have to find a way to seal the deal, but also leave enough space to sign a few more bench pieces.

This is just conjecture, but perhaps an agreement of three years, $60 million, with an option on the final year, is enough to satisfy both sides. Or perhaps the Mavericks will have to give in to make sure they get their man. The hope is they could show some restraint to save some cap space, and not fully max out an athletic but aging center.

It’s going to be a very interesting next week. Or maybe starting tomorrow night.

Continue to check back in to Mavs Moneyball for breaking news and analysis as #FreeAgencySZN begins.