Doc Rivers’ Clippers have been good to DeAndre Jordan. Rivers has pumped up Jordan and tried to fill him with confidence since the say he walked in the door, trying to build back up what Vinny Del Negro had spent years tearing down. It’s to the point where Rivers vehemently overstates Jordan’s case for Defensive Player of the Year.
But that is not necessarily buying the Clippers a lot of loyalty when Jordan becomes a free agent this summer. Jordan wants to enjoy the experience and look around a little.
“I mean I’ve obviously been here seven years, and the past two have been great,” he said. “Doc (Clippers coach Doc Rivers) has been my biggest supporter and the best coach I’ve ever had. The team is great. The guys are great. We have great camaraderie. But the free agency process is definitely going to be a fun one.”
Jordan may flirt with other teams, there will be demand for his services, but expect him to remain a Clipper — and for Los Angeles to overpay a little to keep him.
The reality is the Clippers need his rebounding (14.8 a game this season), his play in the paint (shooting 71.8 percent), and his rim protecting shot blocking. More than that they can’t replace him if he bolts.
Jordan is making $11.4 million this year, and the Clippers will give him a raise off that number. Why? Because if he leaves the Clippers are still right up against the cap (due to the large salaries for Chris Paul and Blake Griffin), so the best the Clippers could do to replace him would be the mid-level exception. I’m not Jordan’s biggest fan, but the Clippers simply could not get someone close to what Jordan brings for the roughly $5.5 million of the mid-level (remember the Clips spent their mid-level last season on Spencer Hawes, he’s the caliber of player you get). The Clippers need to pay whatever it takes to keep Jordan.
Jordan also is close with Griffin. In the end, he’s almost certainly choose the big money and to keep playing for Doc Rivers.
But he’s going to look around a little.