And here we thought NBA free agency was basically done.
After a whirlwind of activity over the first few days of the moratorium, basically all of the top free agents were accounted for. LeBron James and Tristan Thompson haven’t agreed to new deals, but LeBron isn’t going anywhere and Thompson is almost certainly staying in Cleveland.
But Wednesday afternoon, ESPN’s Marc Stein dropped the bomb that the Los Angeles Clippers were lobbying DeAndre Jordan to change his mind and return to the Clippers instead of going to the Dallas Mavericks.
At first, this just seemed like a desperation ploy by the Clippers as they realized how much they were going to miss Jordan. With the moratorium not over until Thursday, Los Angeles wanted just one last chance to convince Jordan to not agree to a four-year max deal in Dallas.
But the story has evolved since then, with reports coming out that Jordan initiated everything by reaching out to Doc Rivers and expressing the feeling that he may have made a mistake by choosing Dallas. There have also been reports that Jordan’s agent, Dan Fegan, orchestrated the Mavericks pick and that Jordan was rushed into a decision before the Fourth of July because other teams needed to know where he was heading.
There are certainly many different agendas at play here, and who knows just what exactly is right and what’s wrong, but what we do know is that both the Clippers and Mavericks have representatives in Houston trying to persuade Jordan to sign with their respective teams. Many now expect Jordan to renege on his commitment with the Mavericks and head back to Los Angeles, but nothing is set in stone until pen touches paper.
If Jordan goes back on his word and returns to the Clippers, there could be massive repercussions. The Clippers would return to being title contenders and the Mavericks would be left with a ton of cap space and nobody to spend it on after thinking they had Jordan locked up and others went elsewhere. Mark Cuban would certainly be furious, and one has to wonder whether he’d push for the removal of the moratorium. The moratorium is in place so the NBA can do its audits and officialy set the salary cap for the next year, and it’s also there so teams don’t circumvent free agency before it starts (although that probably still happens anyway).
It’s also worth noting that this wouldn’t be the first time a player changed his mind in free agency, although the other examples weren’t quite as high profile as this. Considering the domino effect of a decision like this, perhaps the league would look at changing a system that allows for billions of dollars to be hanging in limbo with technically no agreements in place.
What made this saga all the more entertaining was the social media craziness that’s occurred. With reports and hot takes flying around everywhere, players involved with the meetings (Chandler Parsons, J.J. Redick, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Paul Pierce) began an emoji war on Twitter that just got better and better. A bunch of other people and even other NBA team Twitter accounts got involved as well as it blew up. If this all sounds childish and silly, that’s because it is. It’s also hilarious. Only in the NBA.
Whatever happens, somebody is going to be screwed and left without their starting center. It would be pretty epic if the Clippers went through all this and were denied again, but it wouldn’t be a great look if Jordan reneges on this commitment after making a decision nearly a week ago. Either way, it’s been an incredibly entertaining day and has certainly injected some life back into NBA free agency. Stay tuned for the final decision.