LAS VEGAS – It took three painstaking years, but the marriage between the Dallas Mavericks and DeAndre Jordan has finally been consummated.
In 2015, Jordan left the Mavs standing at the altar when he initially verbally agreed to sign a four-year free agent contract with proprietor Mark Cuban’s organization, but reneged on that agreement and instead returned to continue playing for the Los Angeles Clippers. But on Friday, this time – minus the pomp and circumstances of the emoji-filled scene that highlighted the 2015 NBA free agency offseason – Jordan not only said ‘I do” to joining the Mavs, this time he promptly kept this word and actually signed a one-year nearly $24 million contract on Friday with Dallas.
The Mavs know the 6-11, 265-pound Jordan is exactly what they need to shore up the middle of their porous defense. That’s why they put the past in the past and never let personal feelings get in the way of a good business decision, especially when it comes to acquiring a top-shelf player of Jordan’s ilk.
“It’s going to be great,” point guard Dennis Smith Jr. said, referring to the addition of Jordan. “He’s a monster.
“Offensively, he does what he’s supposed to do, he understands what he’s supposed to do. Defensively, he’s a problem. He’s a really good rebounder, so I’m excited to play with him.”
Before joining the Mavs, Jordan, who turns 30 on July 21, spent his entire 10-year career with the Clippers after being the 35th pick of the 2008 NBA Draft. And with the Humble, TX, product finally under lock and key, the Mavs can throw out a lethal starting lineup from a list that includes Luka Doncic and Smith in the backcourt, Jordan at center, and between Dirk Nowitzki, Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews at the two forward spots.
In his 10 years with the Clippers, Jordan averaged 9.4 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. He also averaged a double-double in each of the last five seasons, including 12 points and 15.2 rebounds per game this past year.
“It’s a really good addition to our team,” Smith told Mavs.com following this morning’s shootaround at the Cox Pavilion. “I think he’ll be a key component in terms of us making a (playoff) push this year.”
Armed with a 7-6 wingspan, it’s a misnomer that Jordan’s game is all about defense since he also owns a career shooting percentage of 67.3 percent. In addition, the Texas A&M product finished second in the NBA in field goal percentage last year at 64.5 percent.
“You know what he did in LA,” Mavs summer league coach Jamahl Mosley said. “(The Mavs like) his ability to block shots, his ability to run the floor, his ability to be a threat on the rim.
“He’s a great communicator defensively, and offensively you have to respect his ability to finish at the rim.”
With the Clippers, Jordan was part of a fancy nickname called Lob City, where he frequently took lob passes from Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and other teammates and finished the play with a thunderous dunk. It’s not known if the lob game will become a frequent staple of the Mavs’ offense, or just a passing fancy.
“I don’t know if that’s what we’re aiming for, but we’ll have more this year with DeAndre there,” Smith said. “We’ll have more.”
Knowing that Jordan has made a huge name for himself while being a dangerous commodity on the pick-and-roll play, Smith was asked about possibly averaging a double-double in assists next season.
“I should,” Smith said. “So we’ll see how that goes.”
Jordan led the NBA in rebounds in 2014 and ’15, was first-team all-NBA in ’16, made the All-Star team in ’17 and collected all-NBA defensive first-team accolades in ‘15 and ’16.
“Much respect for (Jordan),” rookie forward Ray Spalding said. “Again, I’m new to the league, so I look forward to being able to meet him and play with him.”
In order to get close to the $24.1 million Jordan would have earned next season had he opted into the final year of his contract with the Clippers, the Mavs renounced the team options they had on Seth Curry, Salah Mejri, Doug McDermott, Nerlens Noel and Nowitzki so they could free up additional money under the salary cap. And after signing Jordan, the Mavs can now turn their attention towards re-signing free agents Yogi Ferrell, Nowitzki and Mejri.
Coach Rick Carlisle, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and Cuban weighed all the options and know that if the addition of Jordan works out to their liking, they’ll have more money to sign him to a long-term contract next summer. And if it doesn’t work out, the Mavs will have more money to sign other free agents next summer.
“Mark, Rick and Donnie have done a great job of putting us in position to do some good things and I think we’re really excited about him coming, him joining us and being on board,” Mosley said. “What I know about him is he does a great job at communicating and making it tough on defenses.
“If you don’t find him on the roll, you have a finisher at the rim.”
A finisher who – three painstaking years in the making – finally said “I do” to his marriage to the Mavs.