Last week’s DeAndre Jordan saga was the craziest thing I can remember following through Twitter. ESPN’s Marc Stein tweeted almost right after I woke up Wednesday morning that the Clippers were set to engage in a last-ditch effort to convince DJ to cancel his plan to join the Dallas Mavericks in order to re-up and stay in L.A. The notion that they could convince him to stay seemed a total pipe dream…until we started hearing details about how Jordan had allegedly initiated these discussions himself upon having second thoughts regarding his initial decision to join the Mavs.
You all know what happened after that, so no need for me to bother recapping it all. It’s been almost a full week since all of this went down and we’re still hearing about it and the ramifications it’s had around the league. Will the league change the moratorium rules in an attempt to prevent this from happening again? What would the Clippers have done if DJ had left? What do the Mavericks do now that they’ve suddenly been robbed of a franchise centerpiece?
For Dallas, the answer is apparently some combination of Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee or Samuel Dalembert. This is likely the scrap heap through which the Clippers would’ve had to sort if Jordan had fled for Texas. Instead, the Clips are heading into next season as dangerous as they’ve ever been.
Aside from retaining Jordan and trading for Lance Stephenson, LAC has also signed free agents Paul Pierce, Wesley Johnson and Cole Aldrich. They’ve reportedly agreed to a new deal with Austin Rivers that will keep him with the Clippers for at least two more seasons. Word came down Thursday afternoon that the Clips had also lured former Rocket Josh Smith on a bargain of a minimum contract. As of now, here’s what the Clippers’ roster is looking like.
Center: DeAndre Jordan, Cole Aldrich
Power forward: Blake Griffin, Josh Smith, Branden Dawson
Small forward: Paul Pierce, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Hamilton
Shooting guard: J.J. Redick, Lance Stephenson Jamal Crawford, C.J. Wilcox
Point guard: Chris Paul, Austin Rivers
After the Rivers and Aldrich deals were made official, L.A. had 12 players on the roster of a maximum of 15. Lester Hudson was just released. They also just signed their lone draft pick, Branden Dawson, upping it to 13. Smith gives them 14. After having given Pierce their taxpayer midlevel exception, they have only veteran minimum deals to offer. There is apparently mutual interest between the team and Glen Davis, who could return to fill another backup big slot. We haven’t heard anything about whether Hedo Turkoglu and/or Ekpe Udoh might return.
Regardless, the Clippers have their core, ready to move forward once again. The Clippers still likely would’ve been good enough to make the playoffs in the West next season if Jordan had bailed, but it obviously would’ve been a seismic blow to the team’s championship hopes. But now, they’re once again in the thick of things.
Dallas, on the other hand, is left scrambling. They’re far from what you’d consider to be a bottom-feeder, and will still have plenty of talent on the roster next season. Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews and whatever’s left of Deron Williams is a nice-looking group, on paper. But is that the kind of core that has the makings of a real contender? Almost certainly not. Nowitzki has famously forfeited millions in potential earnings for the long-term betterment of the franchise, and it’s not really come close to panning-out the way he and the Mavericks organization would’ve hoped. Jordan may not have been enough to help them get over the hump next season, but he certainly would’ve helped make them an even more attractive destination for future free agents. Instead, they’re now digging around the Samuel Dalemberts and JaVale McGees of the world.
It took the wildest turn of events some of us have ever seen during free agency, but the Clippers once again have life. They’re also now strong in areas in which they were weak last year, most notably frontcourt depth. The additions of Aldrich, Smith, Pierce, Johnson and Stephenson are potentially huge for a team that simply ran out of gas during the playoffs because of overtaxation.
It’s been a pretty good summer so far for Doc Rivers, wouldn’t you say?
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.