Did DeAndre Jordan make a mistake leaving the Clippers, and how can LA replace him?
With the 4th of July celebrations imminent, some fireworks could be heard in the streets of Dallas on the eve when it was announced that DeAndre Jordan would accept a four-year $80 million deal with the Mavs. This contentious decision by the free agent has been the biggest shocker of free agency thus far.
It wasn’t too much of a quandary from the public’s eye, was it? Signing back with the incumbent team that came within one game of the Western Conference Finals this past postseason wasn’t enticing enough.
No one’s actually going to jump for joy when you hear a team acquired an inconsistent and unreliable Lance Stephenson, but the combination of this and bringing on the services of Paul Pierce, who exudes veteran leadership and championship pedigree, might make it a tad bit more enticing.
So why on Earth would anyone leave the ideal situation of catching lobs from Chris Paul and playing alongside Blake Griffin under the coaching acumen of a Doc Rivers?
The Clippers are much closer to being championship ready than the Mavericks and it’s not even close. Dirk Nowitzki is closer to the finish line than he is to the beginning. With the departures of Monta Ellis and Rajon Rondo, they’re devoid of any true ball handlers. Reports have surfaced that J.J. Barea will sign a contract with Dallas, but he shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence with CP3.
According to various reports, the relationship between Paul and Jordan was rocky at times and needed some attending to. It has also been noted that Jordan desired to be more involved offensively, and that wasn’t going to happen in Los Angeles with Jamal Crawford, Paul, Griffin and now Pierce all being significantly better options in that regard.
So maybe, just maybe the Mavericks promised Jordan that he’d been more of an integral part of the Rick Carlisle offense. But as far as we are all concerned, his title chances have diminished significantly.
Then again, were said chances a real possibility in Los Angeles?
Of course they were. The Western Conference last season was as tough as we had ever seen it with fierce competitive spirits permeating the top-8 in the playoffs. But the Clippers had one of the best overall rosters in the league.
Losing Jordan presents them with the arduous task of replacing his production in the lineup. He had four dominating 20-20 performances during the season, which is a rarity nowadays with the decrease in offensive expectations from the center position.
In DeAndre’s case, he wasn’t the focal point of the offense, he just has this uncanny ability to corral rebounds at an unparalleled rate. He led the entire NBA in that category with 15.0 boards per game – 24.5 percent of the Clippers’ rebounds.
Although it may not have been as a result of plays being drawn up for him, Jordan thrived in the Clippers offense in numerous ways. Whether it was keeping possessions alive and scoring on putbacks because of his 4.8 rebounds on the offensive glass or catching lobs from his teammates leading to emphatic dunks, the team benefitted from his athleticism and ferocity.
Furthermore, his impeccable defensive rebounding (10.1) made it possible for them to get out into their transition offense, which ultimately played a factor in their prolific offense that was second to none in the NBA.
The loss of Jordan might prove to be detrimental in their pursuit of greener pastures going forward. He was a liability at the free throw line and it pretty much handcuffed Rivers in the waning moments of games. But his value as the igniter on this team was clearly evident.
With a vacancy at the center position, the Clippers have been linked to guys like JaVale McGee and others who might be able to fill that void. An alternative might be for Doc to employ the small ball lineup spearheaded by Griffin playing the center position and Pierce playing the 4.
This lineup would definitely have some flaws defensively but on offense might just be what they need to space the floor. As great as Jordan was, and obviously they wanted him to re-sign, the lane was often clogged at times for Paul. This new spacing might be just what Paul needs to operate.
With pressure on the Clippers to right their wrongs from this year’s season ending debacle, the unforeseen task will now be replacing DeAndre Jordan. But it’s possible. The NBA is where amazing happens, right?