Missing Lob City But Still Wanting $205 Mil

This week, DeAndre Jordan hired an agent. He hasn’t had an agent in a couple of years. But things are getting serious for DJ. He can opt-out his deal in 2018 and either take an unearned $205 million pay day from the Clippers, or he can leave and get a fat raise too. If he leaves the Clippers, who are talent poor save Blake Griffin, he will take his 14 rebounds per game with him, (and his 108 Defensive Rating). At this point, the Clippers are better off trading Jordan if he doesn’t want to stay and frankly, outside of living in L.A which has been D.J.’s home since he was drafted in 2008, why would he want to stay?

The Clippers have a worse record than the gutsy baby Lakers (just barely). They comfort themselves by saying they are ravaged by injuries which they are. But they don’t have much talent outside of Griffin and Griffin is always injured. He hasn’t played 80 games since 2013-14. Expecting the usual Griffin in street clothes- and why wouldn’t you?- means that the ordinary or above average but surely not great are the ones responsible for the Clippers season.

No Ph.d needed to surmise without Chris Paul the Clips were going to struggle. He was everything for them. But this is ridiculous.

They have lost 16 out of their last 20 games, including a 9 game losing streak. They are currently on a four game losing streak. Even with DJ and his rebounding, their defense is optional. They are in mourning for Paul, I mean sackcloth and ashes, crocodile tears boo-hoo mourning.

Only three teams are worse at moving the ball than the Clippers. The Suns, Hornets and Blazers. There’s more. The Clippers don’t rebound, block shots, create turnovers, drain threes with consistency, guard the three point line. And that is with a healthy DJ manning the middle. They don’t win either.

So how would $40 million a year for DeAndre Jordan change anything besides ruin the cap?

Trick question. The answer is obvious. It would change nothing about what you see.  At all. It would just clog up the Clippers financial flexibiity.

On offense, DeAndre Jordan is a third or fourth option. Give him a lob or pick and roll dunk and he’s happy. On defense, he is a first option in the paint or with pick and roll action. But DJ wants first option money which is star money. Or, to look at it another way, it is Steven Adams money times two.

The Thunder signed New Zealand center Steven Adams to a $100 million dollar deal. Adams numbers this year: 13 points, 8 rebounds, 102 Defensive Rating. Adams is the 11th ranked center, (Real Plus-Minus).

DeAndre’s numbers this year are: 10 points, 14 rebounds, 108 Defensive Rating. He is the 31st ranked center, (Real Plus-Minus).

DJ hasn’t proven with his production this year that he is worth twice as much as Adams. He scores less, he rebounds more, his defense is suspect.

Remember that Dallas fiasco when DJ was leaving the Clips, running head first into the arms of Mark Cuban. Jordan reneged. He changed his mind when the team descended on him and scared him straight. It was all put into motion because Jordan was fed up with Paul’s tough love and critiquing. He wanted some fresh air. Well fresh air is what he has now.

DJ is doing DJ things. He is second in rebounding to Andre Drummond. He is playing 32 minutes a game. His free throw percentage is the best of his career without Paul out there grimacing over every miss. But his impact between winning and losing is miniscule. The D.J. apologists (yes they exist) say that without him the Clips would be losing at a Biblical level, kind of like Phoenix and their 40 point beat downs. But that’s like arguing with a two year old. Losing is losing. If you’re an All-Star, you should be making things better.

Jordan is eligible for the Supermax contract of $205 million. He meets the criteria of being paid by the team that drafted him and an All-NBA selection two out of the past three years. But he was All-NBA because of Chris Paul. If he makes All-NBA this year, a longshot with DeMarcus Cousins, Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns in front of him balling like crazy, he has an argument for a grotesque overpay. He can say he is not dependent on Chris Paul, he has his own game.

But ball don’t lie though. DJ needs a dynamic point guard that can run pick and roll and give him a steady diet of lobs. It doesn’t matter who he plays for. If DeAndre is in the gym, he is going to get 13 rebounds a game. But being elite has to do with who he is playing with. Right now, he’s not playing with comparable talent. That depresses his results and his payday.

NBA GM’s lose their mind when they have a little bit of money. Consider that Nicolas Batum is making $22 million this year (11 points a game) and Evan Turner is making $17 million (7 points a game) and Chandler Parsons is making $23 million (9 points a game). Certain people don’t know when to put down the checkbook.

Paying a non scoring but defensive player like Jordan who needs a point guard to feed him the ball in the place where he needs the ball, paying him like he is Steph Curry is probably going to happen in July. But it is fool’s gold.

Stupid happens a lot on the business side of things. The reality is DeAndre Jordan isn’t worth what he is eligible to be paid. He is a missing piece on a contender that needs a rim protecter but not a $40 million dollar one who can’t make free throws in the last two minutes. On a middle of the road to bad team, DJ is a guy who rebounds. Nothing more, nothing less.

Pay DeAndre the max and six months later you’re singing that famous B.B.King blues song. It’s All My Fault.