Jeremiah Short, Feature Columnist
“DeAndre-Gate” was one of the wildest rides in recent NBA free agency history. It had all the makings of a Hollywood drama. There was a Twitter emoji war, eight-hour card playing session and fake dates–with the Coach’s daughter making a cameo as the ‘baby-sitter.”
DeAndre Jordan, the LA Clippers dunk-face making center, was the protagonist. After giving in to selfish desires, he had a change of heart and decided to return the triumphant hero.
Gut-wrenching and tense, the drama that was DeAndre-Gate was worth it.
At least for the Clippers.
When the news first broke that Jordan would bolt LA, many opined that the Clippers were “screwed.” And they were.
As an already middling defensive team with Jordan (100.1 points per game allowed), they were assured to become one of league’s worst defensive teams without him, even with Lance Stephenson now on the roster.
With Jordan choosing to re-sign with the Clippers, though, they’ve secured the best “rim protector” in the league’s services.
27 and coming off two straight seasons of averaging a double-double, he’s entering the prime of his career, as well. It bodes well for their hopes of adding a Clippers banner to the Staples Center rafters.
I’m sure they would have liked him to return under less-dramatic circumstances. I’m sure Mark Cuban and Chandler Parsons would have, too. But the damaged has been done. All “DJ” could do was apologize, which he has done via Twitter.
“I want to publicly apologize to one of the best owners in the world (Mark Cuban) the (Dallas Mavericks) and their fans. I am humbled by (the Mavs) & (Cuban’s) kindness and understanding. I am sorry to have a change of heart,” Jordan wrote.
Cuban didn’t accept the apology. “When is an apology not an apology?” Cuban told ESPN via a messaging app. “When you didn’t write it yourself. Next.”
Jordan’s apology may ring hollow, but he did make the effort. Now it’s time to focus what he re-signed to do…win an NBA title. The Clippers have the pieces to do it, too.
Center: Deandre Jordan
Power Forward: Blake Griffin
Small Forward: Paul Pierce
Shooting Guard: J.J. Redick
Point Guard: Chris Paul
Key Reserves: Lance Stephenson, Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers, Glen Davis
While they could use a big man who could stretch the floor and a back-up point guard, the Clippers are legitimately nine-deep.
Not only are the Clippers the all cool name team, CP3 (Paul), The Truth (Paul Pierce), Born Ready (Stephenson), J-Crossover (Crawford) and Big Baby (Davis), they have a formidable “Crunch-Time” line-up.
It’s a marked improvement over a team that squandered a 3-1 series lead against the Houston Rockets–primarily because they had only one playmaker in the clutch–Paul.
Pierce and Stephenson give the Clippers two more. In addition to Stephenson’s playmaking skills, he’s one of the better perimeter defenders in the league. His defensive skills coupled with Jordan’s inside presence and Doc River’s brilliance could make the Clippers the smothering defensive team Rivers envisioned when he agreed to coach the team in 2013.
Jordan, with this free-agency drama, has put the target on his back. He behaved like a prima donna and superstar. He has to perform like one now. 11.5 points a game isn’t going to get it.
He proved that he could perform at a high-level when Blake went down in February. But he has to develop his post-game and start hitting his free throws (39.7 percent not where it’s at). He seems to understand that and is working on his free throws.
Solidifying his relationship with Paul will help Jordan reach the next level, too. Their strained relationship has been well-documented. It’s natural that Jordan’s fun-loving, care-free attitude would clash with Paul’s Type A, grating personality.
Shaq and Kobe had the same dynamic. Eventually, their relationship broke them apart, but they won three NBA titles together before their unceremonious divorce. While Jordan is no Shaq and Paul doesn’t have Kobe’s rings, it’s a similar dynamic.
They need each other more than those two. Jordan and his limited offensive skill set need Paul and his ability to create scoring opportunities for the explosive big. Paul needs Jordan’s presence in the lane when he forced to defend the bigger, more athletic point guards that are invading the NBA in the past few years.
It seems they both have realized it. Jordan made the tough decision to back out of a verbal agreement three months in the making and Paul got off that darn banana boat.
Cuban and Parsons may be “in their feelings” over Jordan’s decision. But he made the right one. If he had signed with the Mavericks, they’re a 5-8 seed and struggle to make it past the first round.
In his return to the Clippers, they’re a top-3 team and legitimate title contender.
That makes the drama all worth it.
Catch me on the “SportsKrib” on Wednesday’s 8-9 Central and Thursday’s 8-10 Central. Follow me on social media @DaRealJShort or check out my facebook page JShortJournalist or my Google Plus page J.Short- Journalist or follow me on Snapchat:JeremiahShort – See more at: http://www.locker-report.com/2015/06/25/what-is-racism/#sthash.c1mypASt.dpuf – See more at: http://www.locker-report.com/2015/07/07/the-myth-of-d-wades-greatness/#sthash.y3fw41dN.dpuf – See more at: http://www.locker-report.com/2015/07/11/perspective-needed-in-johnson-case/#sthash.JJcnVQrl.dpuf