The Dallas Mavericks could be a possible destination for big man DeAndre Jordan if he decides to leave the Los Angeles Clippers this summer, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas. Jordan has "made it clear through back channels that he will be extremely interested in coming to Dallas" and will have the opportunity as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.
Jordan, 26, is considered one of the top prospective free agents to hit the market this summer and will be highly coveted by several teams, including the Clippers. Los Angeles will have a built-in advantage given that it can offer a longer term and more money than other teams, but this is the strongest indication yet that Jordan is open to leaving the only team he's ever played for.
The Clippers originally drafted Jordan in the second round of the 2008 Draft and helped him blossom into one of the league's top centers over the past seven years. He has led the NBA in rebounds per game in each of the past two seasons, and in field goal percentage in each of the past three seasons. There are flaws to his game -- namely, an inability to hit free throws -- but it would be a major blow to Los Angeles if he leaves.
Dallas makes sense as a suitor, though, and Jordan will likely at least consider some possibilities as a first-time free agent. A year after nabbing restricted free agent Chandler Parsons from the Houston Rockets, could the Mavs pull off something similar with Jordan this year?
Why it makes sense
The Mavericks will have money to spend with players like Tyson Chandler and Rajon Rondo hitting free agency, and Jordan fills an obvious need in the paint. Chandler was pretty much the only effective rim protector the Mavericks had all season, and the team's defense suffered badly as a result.
Jordan would be able to plug that hole in the post as a steady rim protector and elite rebounder, and he's still got several prime years left. Compared to Chandler, who turns 33 in October and has battled injuries in the past, Jordan looks to be a far more reliable option.
Since the beginning of the 2011-12 season, Jordan hasn't missed a single game while steadily improving his numbers. This season, he averaged nearly 12 points on a league-high 71-percent shooting, and also led the league in rebounds per game at 15. He's one of the most physically intimidating players in the league, and often makes an impact simply by imposing his large presence over other players.
Jordan may not be the best big man to hit unrestricted free agency this summer -- that title goes to either Marc Gasol or LaMarcus Aldridge -- but he may be the most likely to leave his current team. If the Mavericks are hoping to pry loose an impact big man in the offseason (which they usually are), then Jordan is a highly logical candidate to pursue.
Why it doesn't make sense
Just because the Clippers have allowed Jordan to hit unrestricted free agency doesn't mean they want to let him go. Los Angeles has spent seven years developing him into a premier player, and probably would prefer not to watch him spend his prime playing for another contender.
The Clippers should have the money to re-sign Jordan even with the big deals for Chris Paul and Blake Griffin on the books, and owner Steve Ballmer doesn't sound like one to shy away from luxury tax payments. After spending $2 billion to buy the team, Ballmer seems determined to build a winner, and that likely involves not being cheap when it comes to re-signing star players.
As mentioned above, Jordan is one of the best big men in the league and the Clippers' third-best player. He's incredibly important to their defensive scheme and helps to make up some of Griffin's defensive shortcomings with his size and athleticism. Finding a replacement for Jordan would not be easy, and most likely, would not be cheap, either.
The Clippers and Jordan may be keeping their options open for now, but it's hard to see Los Angeles letting him walk for nothing in the summer. It's possible the team tries to orchestrate a sign-and-trade to at least recoup some value from the situation, but more likely, the Clippers simply try to re-sign Jordan outright and give the current core another chance. Los Angeles has battled the defending champion San Antonio Spurs tough in their current playoff series, and it seems like the team is on the cusp of something great. Reshuffling the deck while CP3 is still in his prime remains possible, but it's not likely. 3 out of 10.