The organization can put its money where its mouth is by extending Jordan’s contract. He’s eligible for an extension that could start next season at up to $27,170,820 and be worth up to $121,725,274 over four years.
He has discussed an extension, but he would earn less going that route; talks have stalled. “If they want me, yeah, I’d love to be here,” Jordan says. “But I don’t have an extension, do I? So we’ll see.” (Jordan is also negotiating without an agent. He parted ways with Dan Fegan, his old agent, after the Dallas hostage situation. “I haven’t had the best experiences with agents,” Jordan says.)
The Clippers know the math. Perhaps they are angling to squeeze Jordan in a tight free agency market. Whether they can build a contender around Griffin and Jordan will depend in part on “what the number is” on Jordan’s salary, Rivers admits. “We want DJ back,” Rivers says. “We think we can win a title building around him and Blake. You also need room in the budget for other people.”
It’s not clear where the breakdown is. Jordan could opt out next summer, when max starting salary projects to be $35 million, which would carry a five-year max of $205 million if he re-signs or a four-year max of $152 million if he signs elsewhere. Maybe he doesn’t want to lock into a smaller extension now.
The Clippers should also be wary of pledging big money to Jordan into his 30s. It’s a tight market, especially for centers. The Clippers are still establishing their identity around Blake Griffin after Chris Paul‘s departure. The early returns certainly make Jordan look like a positive part of this retooling, but it’s early. Committing to him would also limit L.A.’s upside to lure another star.
Frank made a strong statement about Jordan’s status before the season, but now, it doesn’t look quite as likely Jordan stays with the Clippers for the rest of his career.