That escalated quickly. For those who thought that the NBA would settle into the dog days of summer league after a raucous first few days of free agency, well… the league had other ideas.
Thanks to a few weird quirks with the free agency rules, players and agents were able to negotiate contracts, but were not able to put ink to paper for those agreements until last night at Midnight EST. Everything that came out over the past few days, including some huge deals for players like Kevin Love, Draymond Green, and Jimmy Butler amounted to verbal commitments. Same with, of course, DeAndre Jordan who as of last Friday was headed to Dallas on a four-year, $80 million deal after being recruited by Chandler Parsons, aka the Big Man Whisperer, and Mark Cuban.
They even went out to the club in Manhattan Beach on Friday night to celebrate and went hard enough that Cuban ended up like this on the plane back to Dallas:
And that was that: Chandler Parsons had lured the premier free agent at the center position to his team for two straight offseasons, Doc Rivers was proven (again) to be a terrible GM, and the Clippers were, despite a new owner and a new logo, dead in the water. Again. Or so we thought. Then news started to trickle out yesterday afternoon that the Clippers were going to make one last run at pitching to Jordan after failing their first go-round. This news was greeted as it should have been: with humor.
But suddenly, information began to surface that seemed to indicate this thing might be serious: the Clippers had a real shot at getting him to reconsider and return to LA. Information including the fact that Jordan started having second thoughts as far back as Monday:
Like I said, this started Monday with DJ having second thoughts and CALLING Doc Rivers. — Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 8, 2015
After DeAndre got in touch with Doc Rivers on Monday, Doc started getting in touch with the whole team asking them to get to Houston
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 8, 2015
Basically Doc Rivers jumped on the horn, told everyone “get here” and so they came. Chris Paul cut short his vacation (and banana boat riding) and raced to Houston. JJ Reddick hopped in the car. Blake Griffin took whatever methods he could, including maybe a helicopter, or a Kia Optima. Chandler Parsons also hopped on a plane to Houston, planning to join up there with Mark Cuban so they could pitch to Jordan one last time when it became clear that the Clippers were going to beat them to the punch.
The Clippers entourage, which grew to include owner Steve Ballmer and the newly signed Paul Pierce, entered Jordan’s house in the afternoon. Jordan’s agent, Dan Fegan, was not present, and rumor has it that he was not allowed into the house at all over the course of the evening. Another member of his staff helped handle the paperwork at the end of the night. In the meantime, Mark Cuban had arrived in Houston but apparently did not have the address to the house and was furious:
CORRECTION: Sources: Cuban beside himself. Driving around downtown HOUSTON begging (thru texts) Jordan’s family 4 address to DeAndre’s home — Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 9, 2015
The meeting quickly ended and the Clippers brass and players had Jordan back in the fold by around 8 pm EST. But in order to make 100-percent sure this time, they decided to prevent a final meeting that Jordan had promised to the Mavs by putting his house on lockdown and planting themselves there until the moratorium on contracts lifted at midnight and he could put pen to paper.
So far, Clippers able to keep everyone else out of house, including Cuban, agents. Everyone. They’re in four-corners until midnight Eastern.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2015
I’m told that DeAndre Jordan won’t even take a phone call from Mark Cuban or Chandler Parsons.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 9, 2015
The rest of the night passed without incident. Right after midnight, Jordan inked a new deal with the Clippers: 4 years, $88 million with a player option in the fourth year. At the end of the day, he makes a bit more money (though not as much as he could have with a five-year deal), the Clippers have a center, and the Mavs are staring a rebuild-type situation square in the face.
Will something like this happen again in the future? Probably not. This whole incident, while supremely entertaining and I hope it happens again next year and every year, is really not a good look for the NBA. If we trace back the butterfly effect of Jordan “signing” with the Mavs it’s enough to make one’s head spin. Do the other free agent centers that the Mavs might have pursued, but ended up signing elsewhere instead end up in Dallas? The falling of those dominoes stretches out ad infinitum.
Many teams and GMs are expected to push for changes to the start of free agency to at least the release of the final salary cap and luxury tax numbers from the league office (which came out yesterday actually but were lost in the excitement). Hush-hush negotiations between agents, players, and front offices have always been a part of the free agency process, not just in the NBA but in all leagues and it won’t stop. But teams would like some protections from having their carefully laid plans being ruined by a young player who may not quite know what he wants as it turns out.
But let’s forget all that for a minute and just bask in the greatness that was July 8, 2015. My goodness, what a day. JJ Redick flipped his grade for the Clippers offseason from an F-minus to an A+. Mark Cuban was reduced to driving around downtown Houston furiously texting for an address. I can’t even imagine how mad Jordan’s agent is; they wouldn’t even let him in the house.
Those Clippers-Mavs matchups next season just turned into essential viewing. Get your popcorn ready. I love this game.
That’s why they brought me here lol pic.twitter.com/Z64Tkiyp01
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) July 9, 2015
I thought I had a good pump fake. — Chandler Parsons (@ChandlerParsons) July 9, 2015
Cover photo AP Photo/Jae C. Hong.
BRIAN WONG | @bigbwong
Brian Wong is a third-generation Chinese American and Bay Area native. NBA fan, Golden State Warriors fanatic. Brian is a 2015 Dat Winning fellow.