Move over Kiki Vandeweghe, you’ve finally been replaced as the #1 villain of Mavs fans everywhere. Thank you very much DeAndre Jordan. For those too young to remember the Vandeweghe saga, the expansion Mavericks selected Kiki Vandeweghe in 1980 with the 11th overall pick out of UCLA. Vandeweghe would never play a game for the Mavs, however, as he made it clear to Mavs ownership and management that he didn’t want any part of being on an NBA expansion team. The Mavericks ended up trading the rights to Vandeweghe to the Denver Nuggets and Mavs fans subsequently booed Vandeweghe each and every time he touched the ball in Reunion Arena over his 13-year career. Mr. Jordan, I can hardly wait till you hear the American Airlines Center in full voice.
In case you’ve been under a rock for the last two days or so, free agent DeAndre Jordan had verbally agreed to a max contract (4 years, $80 million) with Mark Cuban and the Mavs six days ago, only to renege on his commitment yesterday and re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. The 26-year-old native Texan had a contingent of Clippers show up at his Houston residence on Wednesday, including owner Steve Ballmer, head coach Doc Rivers, and players Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and newly signed Paul Pierce to apply the full court, last minute press. It obviously worked. The Mavericks for their part are now in full scramble mode after missing out on other potential free agents, thinking their dollars were committed to Jordan.
Mark Cuban reached out to Mavs fans yesterday through his CyberDust account (a social media platform owned by Cuban) and said – “Dear Mavs fans – There will be a time when I detail everything I know regarding the last 48 hours. I don’t think the time is right to say anything beyond the facts the he never responded to me at all yesterday. Not once. To this minute I have not heard anything from him since Tuesday night. More importantly, I specifically told Wes [Matthews, who also agreed to sign with the Mavs] that I would not hold him to his commitment if he wanted to go elsewhere. I can’t print his exact response, but suffice it to say he is excited to play for our Mavs. Wes Matthews is the type of player we want in a Mavs uniform and our fans will love him. He will be in Dallas today so if you see him give him an MFFL welcome +letsgomavs!”
The reason a situation like this can occur in the NBA is because of the league’s ridiculous “no-signing” period for the first eight days of free agency. During this time players and teams can negotiate and discuss terms of deals, but can’t actually agree to them. This in theory includes verbal agreements – which absolutely no one adheres to. This isn’t likely to change any time soon, however, as the current CBA includes this “moratorium” and runs through the 2020-21 season. Commissioner Adam Silver may give some lip service to how the process was handled at some point, but deep down has to be loving the amount of NBA talk and exposure the situation has generated in the middle of the off-season.
For his part, DeAndre Jordan’s image has no doubt taken a hit – seen now as a man who cannot be taken at his word. There are ethical ways to conduct both personal and business affairs, and Jordan failed miserably on both accounts. To not have the common courtesy (courage?) to at least inform the man who committed to pay you $80 million about a change of heart shouts immaturity at best, and major character flaws at worst, something that should – but probably won’t – haunt him as he’s counting his new Clipper dollars.
Flip the the incident around and imagine Mark Cuban not honoring his word, last minute pulling the offer back from Jordan, without even alerting him, leaving him scrambling to find a team. Can you imagine the outrage that would come from the players association? But unfortunately for Cuban and the Mavericks that wasn’t the case, and this whole ordeal is just an undeserved addition to a growing list of recent free agency failures…and puts them in a immediate “reboot” mode to see what, if anything, can be salvaged from this off-season. Oh, and when the 2015-16 schedule gets released later this month, circle the date when the Clippers come to town.