The Los Angeles Clippers have spoken to a few teams to gauge the trade interest on rim-protecting center DeAndre Jordan, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes. Los Angeles reached out to the Phoenix Suns, per Haynes, with an offer of Jordan for Tyson Chandler and the No. 4 pick in this year’s NBA draft.
The Suns are believed to have “balked” at the offer.
The ninth-year big man made his first All-Star appearance as a reserve this season, keeping the Clippers afloat while both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin missed time due to injury. Jordan nearly mirrored his numbers from two seasons ago, averaging 12.7 points and 13.8 rebounds per game. He was the defensive anchor, screen-setter, and rim-runner for a Clippers team that tied for the West’s fourth-best record.
But the Clippers endured another early and disappointing first-round playoff exit. After Griffin injured his toe in Game 3 against the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles squandered its 2-1 lead to lose the series in seven games.
Los Angeles faces the real possibility of losing both Paul and Griffin to free agency this summer. If so, the Clippers — who doubled as the league’s oldest team last season — would make an attempt to get younger and more athletic as quickly as possible.
The Clippers don’t have a pick in the 2017 NBA draft, and with ex-Warriors consultant Jerry West now advising Steve Ballmer and Los Angeles, Haynes reports opposing teams believe Jordan “could be acquired should the appropriate package present itself.”
Jordan has two years remaining on his contract worth about $46.7 million. He has a player option on the 2018-19 season, and will probably opt-in to collect his $24.1 million (in a league where centers are becoming obsolete, you would, too).
Jordan also has a 15 percent trade kicker that increases the value of his final two seasons to almost $54 million if dealt this summer.
Why trading Jordan makes sense
The NBA is changing
The NBA is evolving every season, and traditional big men have become a rarity. Centers have to be more versatile than ever to keep up.
For example, Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol, and Brook Lopez each entered the 2016-17 season with a three-point shot. Nikola Jokic emerged as one of the best true centers in the NBA because of his playmaking, ball handling, and perimeter shooting. Myles Turner is blocking shots on one end and shooting step-back threes on the other.
If a player can’t do more than one thing, their value begins to decrease.
Jordan’s bread and butter is as a shot-blocker and roll man off screens. That would have been good enough a few years ago. Not so much in 2017.
Jordan has a real handicap
Jordan’s free throw woes have also plagued the Clippers.
The big man shot 48.2 percent from the foul line, the league’s second-worst free throw clip ahead of only Andre Drummond. Teams often employ the hack-a-Jordan technique to prevent the Clippers from getting into offensive sets, which is frustrating for coaches, players, and fans alike.
CP3 and Blake could be gone
Paul and Griffin will both decline their player options and test free agency this summer. If they bolt town, there’s no reason for the Clippers to keep Jordan, nor for Jordan to stay in Los Angeles.
If they can recoup some assets while building for the future, flipping Jordan would be the best option for the Clippers to move forward.
Why trading Jordan doesn’t make sense
It was only two years ago that the Clippers couldn’t seem to function without him. Jordan was on his way to Dallas as an unrestricted free agent, set to sign a max contract with the Mavericks. He wanted to be more involved in an offense, and Rick Carlisle offered just that.
But Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Doc Rivers flew out to Texas to intercept Jordan before he could officially sign his contract. Jordan had verbally agreed on going to Dallas but reneged after his teammates — his close friends — talked him out of it.
Los Angeles hasn’t had the best success in the postseason, but it’s hardly fair to point the finger at Jordan. After all, he’s had the best health of any key Clippers player in the Lob City era.
Doc Rivers’ team lost in the first round this year after Griffin had a toe injury. Last season, it was both CP3 and Blake who went down in the first round against the Trail Blazers. Los Angeles just hasn’t had the best luck with health, and it’s easy to point the finger at the guy who can’t make his free throws.
Probability Jordan gets traded: 6/10
If Paul and Griffin go, Jordan is the next domino to fall. It wouldn’t make sense to keep him around if the Clippers want to make a push for the future. For that reason, I give DeAndre Jordan a 60 percent chance at being moved this summer.
Unless the Clippers haul in a big fish, like Carmelo Anthony, without giving up any major pieces, Griffin and Paul could be better off elsewhere. The Lob City era is coming to a close and position-less basketball has to be next on the agenda.
The Clippers’ Big 3 gave Los Angeles some exciting years. But the time is approaching for a shake up. And if they trade Jordan this summer, that shakeup could be right around the corner.