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Everyone looks horrible in the DeAndre Jordan fiasco

DeAndre Jordan messed up. The Clippers messed up. The Mavericks messed up. The NBA messed up. Everybody messed up.

As an NBA fan, I am absolutely thrilled the DeAndre Jordan saga happened. I spent most of the day cackling as two NBA teams publicly and awkwardly squabbled over the affections of a player.

While this was fun for outside observers, NBA players and teams shouldn't operate this way. As a fan, I completely support every circumstance that led to an NBA player holding an emergency sleepover with the doors locked. Still, I know that NBA teams and players must be cringing. Every major entity involved in DeAndre Jordan's free agency screwed up.

Nobody comes out looking good. Everybody did badly, and they should feel bad.

DeAndre Jordan

Look, I like DeAndre Jordan. He's likeable and fun and a really good center. And I don't have a problem with NBA players being indecisive about free agency decisions. They are enormous contracts that will determine where they spend the most profitable and professionally successful years of their lives. They should take time to make the decision that's right for them.

But this isn't how you do it. Jordan committed to the Mavs on July 3 and changed his mind on July 8. For those five days, the Mavericks rightfully acted as if Jordan planned on signing with the Mavericks. Now, as Tom Ziller points out, they are totally screwed.

If Jordan had held out until he was really sure, the Mavericks might have been able to put together an alternate plan. They could've pursued some other option at center -- they couldn't have landed a true star like LaMarcus Aldridge or Marc Gasol, but maybe they could've taken a run at trading for Roy Hibbert or reaching a deal with Robin Lopez, both of whom went to other teams while the Mavericks believed Jordan was theirs.

Instead, Jordan pulled out of his decision a few hours before the free agency moratorium ended, leaving the Mavericks with more than $20 million to spend and nobody to spend it on. The best center left on the market is Tristan Thompson, but there is no evidence he's even considered leaving the Cavaliers. After that ... Enes Kanter? After that ... who??

DeAndre Jordan dug the Mavs a huge hole by being dishonest with them. That's not cool!

DeAndre Jordan's agent, Dan Fegan

The sense is that Fegan, who has a noted long relationship with Cuban, talked Jordan into the idea of being on the Mavericks. Jordan realized this and was reportedly resentful. He ended up freezing out Fegan Wednesday night;  when he finally signed the deal with Clippers, one of Fegan's underlings and not Fegan himself was there to certify it.


Agents are supposed to act with the best interests of their players in mind. It seems clear now that Jordan wants to be on the Clippers. That's where his friends are, that's where he knows there's a role where he can be successful. Plus, the Clippers are allowed to offer Jordan larger annual raises than the Mavericks. It's baffling that an agent would try to talk his player out of this.

Fegan's attempt to help his friend's basketball team ended up hurting it. Fegan's other clients now must worry that he'll try and convince them to do things that are bad for their future. I don't think that is good.

The Clippers

It's true that they really just did what they had to do here. Letting DeAndre Jordan slip away was a massive failure. Our Mike Prada took a look at their situation after Jordan left and concluded that they were screwed. Even their own players realized this. When Jordan gave them the opportunity to get him back, they had to take it.

But they really barricaded a guy in his own home to prevent another NBA team from talking to him. It sounds like it was Jordan who was a willing participant in his imprisonment -- he didn't want to talk to Mark Cuban, like somebody trying to avoid a recently-dumped ex -- but the Clippers were definitely invested in trying to keep their indecisive big man from talking to the Mavericks and maybe changing his mind again.

NBA teams should be much more civil with each other. It's not a lot to ask.


The reason this fiasco went down is because of shoddy rule-making. The NBA lets teams talk to free agents on July 1 and doesn't let them officially sign until July 8, creating the "moratorium" window when their teams are able to make handshake deals with players. However, handshake deals are just handshake deals. DeAndre Jordan just broke one without breaking any rules.

There is somewhat of a practical reason for this arrangement. The NBA's fiscal year ends on June 30 and it takes time for accountants to audit the league's finances and come up with an exact salary-cap number. June 30 is also when all the player contracts end, and if players are out of their contracts, other teams can't tamper with them. Signings can't happen because how can players sign deals without a salary cap in place?

But this practical reason doesn't seem worth the negative implications of the awkward window. Jordan's decision seems to have been an earnest change of heart, but imagine if it was actually a malicious effort to handcuff the Mavericks' offseason. It would've worked and nobody could've done anything about it.

The moratorium just led to one NBA team having its offseason ruined. I don't know why the owners of the other 29 NBA teams would want to leave the moratorium in place knowing that the same thing could hypothetically happen to them.

The Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks are the clear losers here. The Mavericks are now left out in the lurch without their biggest free agent signing and probably won't have a good basketball team.

They were unable to sign a contract with a player with whom they had reached a verbal agreement. You can't let that happen. It's not clear what they could've done to prevent it from happening, but, man, they really needed to prevent it from happening.

Paul Pierce

Revealed that he is super-old through poor emoji use.