With the trade deadline just more than a week away, the Los Angeles Clippers remain at the same crossroads where they have been sitting for weeks:
Do they trade DeAndre Jordan (and likely Lou Williams, too) and jump-start a rebuild, or do they hold on to those two and make a push for the playoffs (which seems even more possible in the wake of the DeMarcus Cousins injury in New Orleans)? And if they keep Jordan, can they lock him up long term?
There is no answer to the first question yet, although the offers coming in have not impressed the Clippers.
As for the “can they keep him” question, it is not that easy either, but as of right now the sides are not close to a contract extension, reports Broderick Turner at the Los Angeles Times.
Recently, Jordan has had dinner with Clippers owner Steve Ballmer a couple of times to discuss his future and talked with the team a few times about an extension, but the sides are not close to an agreement. Jordan will earn $22.6 million this season and has a player option for $24.1 million next season.
“The trade deadline is coming up,” Jordan said. “I’ve heard my name in trade rumors the past three years. It is what it is. It’s a business sometimes. That’s what it is. When you think about it that way, your feelings don’t get involved too much.”
In an extension Jordan likely wants a raise, but that may not be in the cards for him. It may not happen this summer either, whether he stays with the Clippers or not. There is a saturation of centers on the market because everyone who was a four/five is now just a five, and a lot of fours are fives as teams play smaller. For a traditional big man like Jordan — who can protect the rim, set good screens, roll hard to the rim and finish efficiently — the market is limited. Especially since it’s hard to play him late in games due to his free throw shooting. Add to all of that the fact only a handful of teams will have near the kind of cap space to sign Jordan to the kind of deal he wants, and you can see his options are limited. The Clippers may get him on a shorter or discounted contract over the summer.
Steve Ballmer isn’t the kind of owner who is okay with tanking, and with his team on the cusp of the playoffs he likely wants to keep Jordan and figure out the money to keep him next summer. Ballmer wants to win, and his team has a legit shot to make the postseason, so they probably take it.