DeAndre Jordan Officially Returns to Clippers
It’s amazing what a few days can do for an NBA franchise. Before the 4th of July weekend, the Los Angeles Clipper saw their title hopes die with the loss of center DeAndre Jordan, who opted to leave town and sign with the Dallas Mavericks. At some point over the holiday, their fortunes changes, along with Jordan’s mind.
Change of Heart
As crazy as the NBA (and Twitter) was on Wednesday, the Clippers win in the end, as DeAndre Jordan officially decided to go against his verbal agreement with the Mavs and return to L.A.
Jordan initially expressed concern over his decision roughly two days ago, when he reportedly extended phone calls to both teammate Blake Griffin and head coach Doc Rivers. The Clippers responded by heading out to Houston, where Jordan resides during the offseason, to make the final push to change their star center’s mind.
L.A.’s plight to win back their prized big man worked out, as Rivers, Griffin, J.J. Redick, Chris Paul, Paul Pierce and owner Steve Ballmer reportedly camped out until Jordan was eligible to sign on the dotted line after midnight.
Jordan’s new deal with Los Angeles is said to be worth nearly $90 million over four years, with the fourth year being a player option.
There was said to be a rift between Jordan and star point guard Chris Paul, but the two have clearly decided to put their differences behind them as they try to form a legit title contender.
Building on Momentum
The Clippers surprised many by making their way to the second round of the NBA playoffs last year, a feat that was only accomplished by knocking out the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in a gritty seven-game series. L.A. would fall short in round two to the Houston Rockets, where they blew a 3-1 series lead and were just one win away from reaching their first Western Conference Finals series in team history.
NBA Finals Bound?
With the Clippers so close and clearly lacking depth, coach and team president Doc Rivers made key changes by trading for versatile forward Lance Stephens and signing swing men Paul Pierce and Wesley Johnson. Jordan was the key missing link, and without him a potential title contender may have been looking at falling out of the playoff picture.
Jordan is back with the Clippers where he belongs, though, and with that L.A. is back near the top of the Western Conference and a decent bet to give the NBA Finals a serious run.
Doing so won’t be easy with the Golden State Warriors still strong and the San Antonio Spurs adding LaMarcus Aldridge, but the Clippers now have a fighting chance. More importantly, though, they now have a legit center for the next four years and with their strong core intact, simply need to make the right depth moves to round out a realistic contender. That still may include one or two more moves, but getting Jordan back has to be the biggest move of all.
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