DeAndre Jordan will return to the Los Angeles Clippers after all. The free agent big man will re-sign to a maximum contract after backing out of his agreement to sign with the Dallas Mavericks. Jordan is set to take a four-year deal worth $87.7 million with an opt out after the third year.
Home is where your ❤ is. #WelcomeHomeDJ pic.twitter.com/Ov0RoRKMDL— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) July 9, 2015
That's why they brought me here lol pic.twitter.com/Z64Tkiyp01— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) July 9, 2015
The decision comes after a wild Wednesday that saw a large Clippers delegation that included several players fly into town to meet with Jordan (while announcing their journeys with a series of emoji tweets) and then surround him at his house so the Mavericks couldn't get in to persuade him to follow through on his initial agreement. The Clippers' meeting was short and included an "emotional" Chris Paul promising a larger role in the Clippers' offense, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard. After that, Jordan played cards with his teammates as they waited until he could officially sign the contract, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban gave up the chase despite last-minute attempts to reach Jordan's family members to facilitate a meeting, according to Broussard. He is now convinced he cannot change Jordan's mind again. The Clippers have remained with Jordan throughout the night and reportedly will call Jordan's agents into his house to officially sign a new contract at 12:01 ET, the earliest he possibly can, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
Jordan will sign a four-year, $88 million contract with a third-year player option, according to CBS Sports' Ken Berger.
Jordan had previously agreed to a four-year maximum contract for slightly less with the Mavericks on July 3, but couldn't officially sign any deal until the end of the league's moratorium on July 9. But after agreeing to the deal with the Mavericks, Jordan had second thoughts. ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported that this whole change of heart was set in motion when the big man called Clippers coach and president Doc Rivers earlier this week.
The Clippers then pushed for another meeting with Jordan at his Houston home on Wednesday. A large Clippers contingent descended on Houston to meet with Jordan, and they reportedly didn't leave until he signed a new deal when the moratorium is lifted at midnight ET. The Mavericks tried to get in a last-second meeting with Jordan, but the Clippers group blocked them from doing so. (Literally, they blocked the Mavericks off).
Don't agree with the furniture layout but I'm not an interior designer. pic.twitter.com/23PNgQB88z— Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin32) July 9, 2015
Jordan's reconsideration saves the Clippers from what would've been a disastrous offseason, one that had shooting guard J.J. Redick wondering if he could give the team an "F-minus" offseason grade. Instead, Rivers and owner Steve Ballmer continued working to persuade their star center, and taking advantage of league rules that prevent contracts from being signed during the first eight days of free agency.
Jordan can get an extra year and more money from Los Angeles, so it's easy to see why he would return, but it will only come after a change of heart and some serious recruiting by the Clippers. Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Redick and new forward Paul Pierce all traveled to Houston along with Rivers and Ballmer to participate in the final meeting with Jordan, and it's likely they helped communicate the team's desire to make him happy.
While it's highly unusual for a team to keep pursuing a player after he's verbally agreed to a deal during the moratorium, the Clippers decided to buck traditional protocol and take the risk rather than simply let Jordan walk. Back in 2009, Hedo Turkoglu pulled out of an agreement with the Portland Trail Blazers to sign with the Toronto Raptors, but over the past few years, teams have rarely even tried.
Jordan, 26, was just too important for the Clippers to let go even after their first meeting failed to convince him. A six-year veteran who had his best season yet in 2014-15, earning All-NBA Third Team and All-Defensive First Team honors, he's the heart and soul of Los Angeles' defense.
Assuming he follows through, Jordan will be back in L.A. for the foreseeable future and the Mavericks are left wondering what just happened. There will surely be debates about the league's moratorium rules in the coming days. Jordan is a Clipper once again, though, and Los Angeles is back to being a threat in the Western Conference.
The Mavericks, meanwhile, have more cap space, but there are very few free agents left to sign. Starting center Tyson Chandler is already off to sign with the Suns. This is a devastating blow.