LAS VEGAS — About 30 minutes before the Dallas Mavericks played their summer league opener against the Phoenix Suns, proprietor Mark Cuban walked towards the Thomas & Mack Center flashing that billion dollar smile that has made him a successful businessman for many years.
Cuban added another success story to his mantel on Friday when the Mavs signed free agent center
DeAndre Jordan to a one-year contract for nearly $24 million. It’s the same Jordan who jilted the Mavs in free agency in 2015 when he reneged on a verbal agreement to sign with Dallas, and instead decided to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers.
But on Friday, Cuban finally got Jordan’s long-awaited signature on a contract. It’s a signature that he hopes will help the Mavs get back to the playoffs as soon as next season.
“We expected to get it done, so it’s not like it’s a relief or anything,” Cuban said. “I’m excited. It’s been a fun summer so far.”
Jordan (6-11, 265) is a defensive warrior who can protect the paint arguably better than any player in the entire NBA. And he is truly just what the doctor ordered to get the Mavs pointed in the right direction.
“He’s a rim runner, pick-and-roller, he’s a defender and he’s a rebounder,” Cuban said. “He’ll be the best rebounder in Mavs history the minute he walks on the court. No disrespect to Tyson (Chandler) and some of the guys who came before him.
“So defensively, offensively, rebounding, the ability to move on the perimeter, I think there’s a lot he can bring to us.”
While some Mavs fans are still overly upset with Jordan because he failed to adhere to his own verbal commitment that he gave Cuban three years ago, the Mavs proprietor is more than willing to let by-gones be by-gones.
“I’m not one to hold grudges,” Cuban said. “There are maybe three people in the whole universe that I hold grudges against, and two of them were from grade school. And I don’t remember their names.”
Coach Rick Carlisle was even more succinct while explaining that he’s forgiven Jordan for his faux pas three years ago.
“Sometimes it takes a while to get things done, but for us this was worth the wait,” Carlisle said. “He brings a great rim presence at both ends, he brings playoff experience and he’s the kind of guy that can help any team that’s in our situation try to get better.”
Jordan is one of the best pick-and-roll players in the NBA, particularly when he’s rolling to the basket. And that’s certainly a weapon that’s already a part of Carlisle’s playbook.
During the Mavs’ talks when they were recruiting Jordan three years ago, Carlisle instinctively recalls one conversation that he’ll always remember.
“Three years ago one of the things that he really liked about our team was we had a lot of playmakers,” Carlisle said. “And we’re back in the same situation.
“So that’s going to help him and he’s going to help our guys with the ability to roll and go for dunks on lobs and stuff like.”
Unlike three years when Cuban was trying to sign Jordan the moment free agency opened, this time he was nowhere near the former Texas A&M standout.
“We used DocuSign,” Cuban said. “We used DocuSign for everything going forward now.”
And going forward, with Jordan in tow, the Mavs know they can have a much greater impact on the NBA than they had last season when the finished with a 24-58 record.
“I don’t know if we’re ready, but we’re getting better,” Cuban said. “We’re sure going to make a run.
“The Western Conference hasn’t gotten any easier, but we’ve gotten a lot better.”
And that comes thanks to the Mavs finally getting DeAndre Jordan’s signature on a contract.