A Center Void for Clippers

DeAndre Jordan putting in work. Photo Credit: Tiffany Zablosky/News4usonline.com
DeAndre Jordan putting in work. Photo Credit: Tiffany Zablosky/News4usonline.com
DeAndre Jordan putting in work. Photo Credit: Tiffany Zablosky/News4usonline.com

Well, what are the Clippers going to do now that center DeAndre Jordan has turned his back on the ballclub and skirted his way to Texas? Win. There is no need to panic in Clipper Nation. At the end of the day when Jordan decided he’d rather be the man in the Lone Star state rather than be third fiddle to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in the Clippers’ pecking order, how much did the team really lose?

If a player can’t finish a game or a quarter because he can’t make free throws, just how much value can be placed on that individual to come through at crunch time? Not a whole lot. As great as a help defender as Jordan is, the Clippers found themselves limited in their options at the end of games because Jordan became a liability at the end of  contests because he couldn’t hit his free throws.

It would have been the same nightmare being played out the next five seasons if the Clippers had re-signed Jordan.

Converting free throws became a problem this past season for Jordan.  It also became very tiresome. So, for the four-year, $80 million max contract that the Dallas Mavericks agreed to sign him for, what are the Mavericks getting in Jordan? What they are getting is a strong rim protector but a very limited offensive big man, whose primary objective to the basket is dunk and dive.

Will the Clippers miss Jordan? Of course, they will. But the whole scenario that played out with Jordan showed that the center was not all in with Los Angeles. While the Clippers put all of their cards on the table with the intentions of keeping him, Jordan, evidently, wouldn’t reveal his hand until the last moment, playing “gotcha” in the high-bid sweepstakes.

DeAndre Jordan played well on both ends of the court against Detroit, scoring 16 points and securing 15 rebounds in the Clippers 113-91 win at Staples Center. Photo by Jevone Moore/News4usonline.com
DeAndre Jordan played well on both ends of the court against Detroit, scoring 16 points and securing 15 rebounds in the Clippers 113-91 win at Staples Center. Photo by Jevone Moore/News4usonline.com

Jordan’s move wasn’t about money. The Clippers could have paid Jordan the same amount of money, and probably more than what Mark Cuban and the Mavericks are going to be given him. This was personal. The Clippers have been knocking on the door of elite status as a ballclub for the past four years. Jordan, Griffin and Paul have been the core part of that nucleus.

Paul and and Griffin would dominate on the offensive end, while Jordan made a name for himself on the defensive side of the ball. The Clippers have never been as a great as a team with Jordan, Paul and Griffin taking the Clippers to different levels of excitement every season. But eventually when teams get on a roll, there is always going to be a player or two who believes they are much better than what they really are.

The verdict out on Jordan so far is that he produced good numbers bolstered to great stats by the fact he was playing alongside two NBA All-Stars. Outside of lob dunks and putback buckets, Jordan really didn’t have to worry about scoring too much because Griffin, Paul, Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick can do that in their sleep. Now that he’s an $80-million, max-contract players, Jordan is going to have to prove he is more than a two-step, offensive player.

Unless there’s some sort of miracle turnaround where Jordan does his best Kareem Abdul Jabbar impersonation, the Mavericks just got a younger version of Tyson Chandler that can’t make free throws. It’s one thing to play excellent basketball while lurking in the shadows behind great individuals like Griffin and Paul. It’s quite another thing to be the face of the franchise. More money means more pressure. More pressure brings about more expectations. More expectations drops more scrutiny.

That’s a DeAndre Jordan problem now. He is no longer the Clippers’ concern. Doc Rivers’ worry now is to get the team he has to work with back into championship-driven mode. While the departure of Jordan will hurt in the short haul, going with a more flexible, perimeter game might work out best for the Clippers anyway.

The additions of Lance Stephenson and Paul Pierce in an already crowded backcourt that include Redick, Crawford and Austin Rivers, just might give the Clippers the last laugh on this matter.

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1092 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (San Diego Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). As a professional journalist, Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a graduate of Howard University.