DeAndre Jordan should thank Doc Rivers for the fact he will have many suitors this summer.
Jordan, an unrestricted free agent, has blossomed under Rivers, who took the effort to build up the player Vinny Del Negro regularly tore down. Offensively he has Jordan playing to his strengths — finishing with authority at the rim, shooting 71 percent on his way to 11.5 points per game. Defensively Rivers has pumped Jordan up to a guy who led the league in rebounding and finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting.
That skills set is going to attract the Dallas Mavericks and others to come after Jordan this summer — but the Clippers can’t afford to lose him and will end up offering a max five-year, $108 million deal to keep him, reports Arash Markazi at ESPN.
“You can’t take anything for granted, but DJ loves being a Clipper,” Rivers told Yahoo. “DJ loves being here. We have an amazing relationship.”
The question is will a max deal be enough? Probably. But would Jordan be willing to take one year and roughly $20 million less guaranteed to not be the third fiddle behind Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in Los Angeles? To have a larger role in another offense? Understandably after Sunday’s loss and playoff elimination Jordan wasn’t thinking about the summer, here is what he told ESPN’s Markazi.
“I’ve been here for seven years so this is what I’m used to,” Jordan said. “But I’m not thinking about that, man. It’s still so fresh [Sunday night]. It’s tough.”
For the Clippers, the math is simple — they have to keep Jordan.
If he walks and comes off the Clippers’ books Los Angeles is still within about $1 million of the estimated $67 million salary cap and would have only mid-level exception money to find a replacement. That kind of money got them Spencer Hawes last season — a guy who barely got off the bench in Game 7 Sunday.
The Clippers can’t come close to replacing Jordan if he leaves, so they have to keep him.
Getting lobs from Chris Paul, playing with his friend Griffin, living in Los Angeles, playing on a contender, and $108 million are very good reasons to stay. The only question is will all that be enough.
Probably. But Jordan is going to look around at his options first.