Open for Business
It’s that day. The day that the fan of every NBA team hopes will be the one that can help keep his/her team prominent, or lift them into prominence. It’s a time of hopes and dreams. Hopes and dreams that are often dashed simply because the best of the best available decide to stay where they are. Indeed, Dwight Howard and LeBron James are the exception to the rule, and while Mavs fans (and detractors) have had their slings and arrows shot at the Mavericks for seeking the “big fish,” the bottom line is you can’t hook a big fish if you don’t cast a line into the water. So with that in mind, the Mavericks set their sites on the likes of DeAndre Jordan and LaMarcus Aldridge, as they start, in earnest, the process of moving on from the heyday of the Dirk Nowitzki era.
Of those two big fish, while the Mavericks (for obvious reasons) won’t publicly prioritize which is their main target, it would appear that Jordan is the top target, and he should be. For all the talk about how centers are marginalized in the pace and space game that most NBA teams favor, when you have a center who can run, and jump, and jump put on the pick and roll, and defend the rim, and be a devastating roll man in pick and roll offense, that player is worth his weight in gold (Or in NBA terms, a max contract). Yes, Jordan is a horrific foul shooter, and even with people like Rick Carlisle and Gary Boren to work with him, he’ll likely never be better than bad. However, the good in his game so far outweighs the bad, it’s a malady that can be tolerated.
What should interest everyone is Jordan’s dominance in that 15-game span when Blake Griffin was injured. Jordan averaged nearly 15 points and over 18 rebounds. He has stated a desire to have a more prominent role on offense regardless of where he plays next season. You’re not going to throw it to him on the block like a classic center. But you can roll him to the rim, and playing with Dirk (Even an older, less efficient Dirk) teams are still going to respect that midrange game enough to open up space for Jordan to do his thing. People might forget, but before the Rajon Rondo trade, the Mavericks actually led the NBA in dunks. Chandler Parsons, Devin Harris, Jameer Nelson, all not classic pass first, lob to the rim passers, but all capable, and that should be a large part of the Mavs pitch to Jordan; whoever they bring on board will be able to get him the ball where he can shoot the 71 percent he did last year, the second highest percentage in NBA history. He doesn’t need Chris Paul to be able to do that for him.
What should also help the Mavericks in their quest for Jordan is Jordan saying he doesn’t want the full five years that the Clippers, alone, can offer. He’s looking for a three-year deal with the final year an opt out so he can take advantage of the windfall that the NBA’s new TV contact will provide starting next season. Which means, after taxes, the Mavericks contract (even with the larger pay raises the Clippers can offer) will be net Jordan more than the Clippers contract. Add in the fact that Jordan’s arrival almost certainly means Chandler Parsons (Jordan’s chief Mavs recruiter) is also likely to stay beyond a likely opt out next year means the Mavericks could have the start of a younger core to take them through the next few years.
Jordan says he wants to end this quickly. He’ll take his visits with the Mavericks, Clippers, Lakers, and Knicks. Over the next two days. By Friday, we should have an answer. It would appear it comes down to the Mavericks and Clippers. The Mavericks are ready with a presentation that includes some help from Jerry Jones and the Cowboys. There won’t be any cartoon characterizations this time. Just business. Business that ultimately lands them the Big Fish, and a big start on cementing their future.